Laschet gets early nod for chancellor runEuropost
Leading members of Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU) are giving their support to party boss Armin Laschet to be the country's next chancellor after elections in September, dpa reported. The autumn polls will see Chancellor Angela Merkel leave the post after over 15 years at the helm.
The CDU traditionally chooses a single candidate for chancellor together with its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). But this election year the head of the CSU, Markus Soeder, has also thrown his hat into the ring to be chancellor, leaving the conservative CDU/CSU bloc with a dilemma as to which candidate to choose.
The CDU leadership was unanimous in backing Laschet, senior CDU figure and Hesse state Premier Volker Bouffier said after a meeting on Monday morning, adding that Laschet was "exceptionally suited" to the job. No final decision will be taken today on the CDU's position, Bouffier said, explaining that the next step would have to be negotiations with the CSU. Soeder is meeting his party this afternoon to seek its support.
While enjoying greater popularity in national opinion polls, Soeder will face an uphill struggle to convince the CDU - the much larger of the two parties - that he's the best person for the job although he is not a CDU member himself. According to dpa sources, the CDU/CSU youth movement is also backing Laschet to be the bloc's chancellor candidate.
Despite the open competition between the two - who officially declared their intention to run on Sunday after months of speculation - Laschet and Soeder are insisting they will help maintain unity and cooperation within the conservative bloc. A decision could come this week or in the next 10 days "at the latest," Soeder told reporters on Sunday.