On Saturday, the German ruling party voted for continuity by nominating Armin Laschet as a leader, voting politically and in style for the nominee who most fits the outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel.
In a 521-vote digital meeting, Merkel’s close ally, 59, was appointed in a run-off against Merkel’s opponent, Friedrich Merz, who received 466 votes.
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In the German parliament, Bundestag, after Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the foreign affairs committee was removed during the first round of voting at the Christian Democratic Union’s online conference, Laschet, president of the country’s most populous province, defeated longtime Merkel critic Friedrich Merz in a runoff.
“I’m aware of the responsibility that comes with this job and will do everything to do well in the upcoming regional elections and to ensure in the national election that the next chancellor comes from the Union,” he stated.
There seems to be an intense emphasis on the future in Berlin with Merkel stepping down after elections in September as Europe tries to reinvigorate a pandemic-ravaged economy, restore transatlantic relations with the new U.s government and take a bigger position on the world stage.
Out of three candidates, Laschet was the strongest ally of Merkel and the most likely to retain her pragmatic path, avoiding the correct and the Greens’ challenges and a strong commitment to the European Union.
“The Germany I imagine is a European Germany,” Laschet told delegates ahead of the vote. “We need to be able to integrate, to hold a society together.”
During a former tenure in the regional government, his ties to the immigrant population gained him the title ‘Turkish Armin’ and his balanced attitude reminds many Germans of the current chancellor.
“The CDU delegates have clearly voted for a continuation of Merkel´s line, staying in the political center,” said global head of macro research at ING, Carsten Brzeski. “Laschet has proven to be very pragmatic and stands for more fiscal stimulus and support for the green transition without losing the interests of business.”
Although the party leader traditionally continues to be the chancellor’s candidate for the conservative bloc of Germany, this move is not automatic this time around. The sister party of the Bavarian CSU will have a significant say in the matter, and Markus Soeder, the chief of the Christian Social Union, is actually well up in the polls.
In a survey conducted by Infratest Dimap, 32 percent of CDU-CSU members consulted thought Laschet is a strong choice for chancellor. That contrasts with Soeder’s 80 percent help. Indeed, Laschet himself insisted that, when speaking at the launch of Soeder’s biography in December, the party must accept a candidate from the CSU.