Germany’s CDU Party Chooses Laschet as Candidate to Succeed Merkel

Party leaders with Germany’s Christan Democratic Union (CDU) party voted late Monday to make North Rhine-Westphalia State Governor Armin Laschet their candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in elections later this year.  
 
CDU party senior leaders selected Laschet over Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder after six hours of debate. Soeder is the leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), and the two parties make up the Conservative Union bloc, which has supported Merkel for the past 16 years.  
 
The vote puts Laschet a step closer to being formally named as the candidate for the conservative alliance.
 
Monday’s CDU vote came after Laschet and Soeder each expressed interest in succeeding Merkel. Soeder has much better overall poll ratings, but Laschet was elected in January to lead the CDU, by far the bigger of the sister parties. It was primarily a conflict of personality and style rather than policy.
 
Soeder said the bigger party of the coalition should decide the matter and that he would respect a “clear decision.” He did just that Tuesday, telling reporters, “The die is cast; Armin Laschet will be the chancellor candidate of the Union.” Soeder said he and his party would support him “without grudge” and with all its strength.
 
Laschet called Tuesday for unity and said he and the CDU were grateful for the CSU’s fair dealings in the decision. He said the two parties must work as a team going into the election campaign.  
 
Laschet is widely seen as a candidate who would continue Merkel’s legacy, although he has clashed with her over coronavirus restrictions.
 
While the conservatives’ popularity has been sagging in recent months, due to perceptions it has mishandled the pandemic and allegations of corruption among some Union members, recent polls show they hold a slight lead over main rival, the Green party.