The executive committee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party backed chairman Armin Laschet on Monday as candidate for the next leader.
Merkel is not seeking a fifth term, after leading Germany for 16 years.
Laschet, 60, declared Sunday that he was prepared to run for chancellor in the national elections to be held in September.
Markus Soeder, 54, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) of Bavaria, the sister party in Merkel’s governing coalition, also expressed his willingness to run for the post Sunday but said he would settle the issue amicably with Laschet.
Laschet, who is currently the prime minister of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected as CDU leader in January. As a centrist politician, he is widely seen as a candidate who would continue Merkel’s legacy, although he has clashed with her over coronavirus restrictions.
Soeder, an astute political operator, strongly supported Merkel during the pandemic; however, no CSU leader has become chancellor before.
CDU runs in 15 of Germany's 16 states, while the CSU runs only in Bavaria, which reports say is likely to be the decisive factor for Laschet to emerge as the candidate of CDU/CSU for the job of chancellor during the federal election.