North Rhine-Westphalia’s State Premier Armin Laschet is set to be the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) candidate for chancellor in September’s election after over a week of tortuous wrangling with the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Markus Söder.
Laschet has led the CDU since mid-January, and the 60-year-old is now expected to win the election for the CDU/CSU conservative alliance and succeed Angela Merkel this year. It is a gamble: Polling of not only CDU supporters, but also Germans in general indicated Söder was the more popular candidate. According to a recent Forsa poll, only 32% of voters who voted CDU or CSU in the 2017 federal election said they would stick with their choice if Laschet were the candidate.
But after hours-long discussion Monday night, three-quarters of the members of the CDU party board backed Laschet. A week earlier, the CDU presidium — the party’s major figures and state leaders — had closed ranks around Laschet. But as the days went by, it became clear that Söder had support among CDU heavyweights and the youth arm of the conservative bloc.
Observers say that it will now be no easy task to unite the CDU/CSU bloc behind its top candidate in an election campaign, where they are competing against a rising star in the Green Party.
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