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Germany: Merkel's party chooses Armin Laschet as leader  - Guardian
Angela Merkel's continuity candidate, the centrist conservative Armin Laschet, has beaten one of her longest-standing rivals in the contest to lead Germany's Christian Democratic Union.

In a digitally-held party congress, Laschet beat the conservative hardliner Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 votes in a run-off vote, following a strong speech that emphasised social cohesion and held up recent scenes from Washington DC as a warning example of divisive leadership.

The third candidate on the ballot, the foreign policy specialist Norbert Röttgen, came last in the first round of votes.

'Mutti' is so popular in Germany that Laschet, who's seen as very close to her, had the best shot at winning the CDU leadership. Will it be enough to succeed Merkel at the Chancellorship next September?

Armin Laschet, Angela Merkel loyalist, is new CDU leader - DW

Now he is Merkel's second successor in the office of party chief. Whoever holds this position traditionally becomes the party's candidate for chancellor and, if the Christian Democrats can form a governing majority, has the first shot at the chancellery. But whether Laschet will also compete for that position has long been unclear.

"A state premier who successfully governs a population of 18 million can also be Germany's chancellor," emphasized Laschet a few days ago.

The candidate is due to be decided only after regional elections in two German states, a good two months from now. That decision will be made in coordination with Markus Söder, the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU). The head of the CDU's sister party in the state of Bavaria denies persistent rumors that he may want to be the conservative alliance's candidate for chancellor. But German bookmakers have Söder top of their list.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Jan 16th, 2021 at 01:35:41 PM EST
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