Germany’s Christian Democrats choose Armin Laschet as their leader

Sunday, 17 January 2021 - 12:40

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, the pragmatic governor of Germany’s most populous state, as its new leader months before an election in which voters will decide who becomes the new chancellor.

Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, announced in late 2018 that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term. She also stepped down from the CDU leadership.

The decision ends an 11-month leadership limbo in Germany's strongest party after outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who had failed to impose her authority on the party, announced her resignation according to foreign media reports.

A vote on her successor was delayed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state, defeated two rivals in the party's virtual conference.

He is now in a good position in the race to succeed Angela Merkel when she steps down as German chancellor in September, after 16 years in office

But he faces a changed political landscape following the Covid pandemic.

Armin Laschet, 59, defeated conservative businessman Friedrich Merz in a run-off vote by 521 votes to 466. A third candidate, Norbert Röttgen, was eliminated in the previous round.