Merkel’s conservatives to appoint leader at virtual congress in January

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Berlin | Angela Merkel’s conservative party announced on Monday that it would hold a virtual congress on January 15 and 16 to elect a new president and potential chancellor candidate in 2021.

The Christian Conservative Party (CDU), which had to postpone this assembly twice, communicated the dates and format chosen in a message on Twitter.

During this virtual congress, the three contenders will be decided by an online vote on January 16. The winner will be confirmed by the delegates via a postal vote, the result of which will be announced on January 22.

“On January 22, there will be a public count and the result will be announced by the electoral committee”, explained at a press conference the secretary general of the party, Paul Ziemiak, hailing in this election online a “great first in the German political landscape ”.

The congress of delegates will be held by videoconference due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has forced Germany to impose partial containment until January 10.

Three candidates are in the running to succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, considered for a time as the “runner-up” of Ms. Merkel, but who decided in February to quit her post for lack of authority over her troops.

The congress to name his successor was first scheduled to take place in April, then was postponed to December due to the virus.

CDU activists will have to choose between moderate Armin Laschet, head of the most populous region, North Rhine-Westphalia, liberal Friedrich Merz, a historic opponent of Merkel, and Norbert Röttgen, a foreign policy expert.

The winner has every chance of being the right-wing candidate in the legislative elections in September 2021, after which Merkel must leave her post after 16 years in the chancellery.

Another candidate, however, could wear the colors of the conservative camp, the Bavarian leader Markus Söder.

Mr. Söder, who is in charge of the CDU’s sister party, the CSU, has been one of the most popular figures in Germany since the start of the pandemic, against which he is in favor of drastic restrictions.

The latest polls give him a strong favorite ahead of Mr. Merz.

The latter, a 64-year-old millionaire and very conservative, sees his ultra-liberal policy unpopular in the face of the need for intervention by the federal state to limit the damage of the crisis caused by the pandemic.

The CDU only twice supported a Bavarian candidate, in the elections of 1980 and 2002, which each time ended in the victory of the opposing social-democratic camp.

The CDU-CSU is clearly ahead in voting intentions ahead of the Greens, the SPD (social democrats) and the Alternative for Germany (far right).

On the SPD side, it is the current Minister of Finance, Olaf Scholz, who will be a candidate for the post of chancellor.

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