Merkel’s party to elect her successor

MERKEL’S PARTY TO ELECT HER SUCCESSOR

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party will elect its new leader on Saturday at a party congress which will be held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the three candidates for the leadership, businessman and lawyer Friedrich Merz continues to enjoy widespread popularity among the voters of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but he is closely followed by his rivals Armin Laschet and Norbert Roettgen.

Public television ARD's poll this week has shown that 29% of CDU voters think Merz would be the best person to lead their party, Laschet, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, is supported by the 25%.

Roettgen, a CDU lawmaker and foreign policy expert, has also gained more popularity in recent weeks and was backed by the 25% of the voters.

Delegates to decide

The CDU's new leader will be elected on Saturday with 1,001 delegates from the party's regional and local branches casting their vote online.

As a precaution against a manipulation by hackers or intelligence organizations, delegates will also send their ballots via postal service.

The final and official results of the election would be announced by Jan. 22

Post-Merkel era

The vote is widely seen as a decisive moment for the Christian Democrats, as it would determine the direction of the party in the post-Merkel era.

Merkel, who stepped down as party leader in 2018, repeatedly said that she is planning to leave politics this year, and will not be running as party's top candidate in federal elections in September.

The CDU's new leader would likely to be the party's candidate for chancellor in the upcoming election.

The party's leading figures are expected to hold further talks in the coming weeks, consult with their sister-party Christian Social Union (CSU), and announce the bloc's candidate for chancellor by April.

Recent surveys show that the CDU/CSU bloc remains Germany's strongest political force polling around 36%, but would need a coalition partner to govern.

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