Politics, World, Europe

Merkel’s conservatives to pick candidate for chancellor

Moderate Armin Laschet seen as favorite but polls show growing support for Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder

Ayhan Simsek  | 16.04.2021 - Update : 17.04.2021
Merkel’s conservatives to pick candidate for chancellor


Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) are expected to decide on their top candidate for the 2021 general elections within days, local media reported on Friday.

Despite Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder’s growing popularity among the electorate, Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) leader Armin Laschet is widely seen as favorite to be the chancellor candidate of the conservatives.

A recent poll conducted by public broadcaster ARD showed that Soeder, who is also the leader of CDU’s smaller sister party CSU, is viewed by majority of Germans as a good candidate to run as chancellor.

Some 44% of people polled said they prefer Soeder, while only 15% backed Laschet as the top candidate of the CDU/CSU.

However, the CDU’s leading figures voiced strong support for Laschet, stressing that current polls should not be the only factor while deciding on their chancellor candidate.

The 60-year-old Armin Laschet, widely seen as Chancellor Angela Merkel's favorite for the top seat, was elected as the CDU’s leader in January.

Schleswig-Holstein’s Premier Daniel Guenther on Thursday underlined the CDU’s support for Laschet, and called on Soeder to withdraw his candidacy.

“The CDU’s executive committee, federal board, all regional branches, and associations clearly spoke out in favor of Armin Laschet on Monday,” he stressed.

Volker Bouffier, a veteran CDU politician and the premier of the state of Hesse, also announced his support for Laschet.

“Laschet is my preferred candidate,” he told HR television.

“We have expressed our opinions, and now we have to make a joint decision out of it,” he said.

While Soeder’s handling of the coronavirus crisis in Bavaria has given him a popularity boost, some within the CDU raised doubts about his leadership skills and criticized him for his hardline policies.

Laschet, a moderate conservative politician, was favored for his pragmatic approach and his long years of experience with coalition governments.

Ahead of the general elections in September, Christian Democratic bloc remains the strongest political force polling around 27%, but it would need a coalition partner to form the country's next government.

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