German Christian Democrats have elected Armin Laschet to succeed Angela Merkel as party leader of the CDU. This became clear during an online party conference on Saturday.
Merkel is quitting this year after more than sixteen years as chancellor. In December 2019, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was appointed as party leader and successor to Merkel, but she decided to withdraw in February 2020.
Merkel’s CDU, together with the CSU, has been by far the largest party in the country for years. It is therefore expected that her successor will become the head of the German government after the parliamentary elections, to be held in September.
The battle took place on Saturday between Laschet (the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia), lawyer Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen, foreign expert of the CDU. They presented themselves from a studio in Berlin. The party’s 1,001 delegates were then allowed to vote digitally for their favorite candidate.
Laschet (59) would not intend to drastically reform the CDU. He wants the CDU to remain a people’s party of the political center. The Liberal Prime Minister of the German state has been a member of the Christian Democrats since 1979 and was already a favorite for the party leadership. Laschet previously sat in the European Parliament.
Relationship Laschet and Merkel showed cracks
For a long time it was rumored that Merkel saw Laschet as her ideal successor. This year, however, their relationship started to show cracks, after Laschet – against Merkel’s wishes – had advocated a relaxation of the corona measures. He came back to this later.
Laschet took on Merz, who was the most conservative of all candidates, and Röttgen. For a long time it was thought that the latter had no chance. Thanks to an intensive digital campaign, targeting women and young voters, he managed to run for party leadership.