Senior German conservatives set to discuss chancellor candidate choice

The two contenders vying to be the German ruling conservative coalition’s candidate for chancellor in September’s election are due to meet leading members of the parliamentary party on Sunday as pressure grows for a decision on who should run, reports Reuters.

Armin Laschet, leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), lags Markus Soeder, head of its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), in opinion polls but enjoys the support of some powerful state premiers.

Traditionally the leaders of the two parties, which form a parliamentary bloc, decide who will run, but some lawmakers are demanding to have a say this time.

The outcome of Sunday’s talks, which is also expected to cover other issues, is unclear. 

While it is possible that the participants will decide who will run, they may also agree on a process or timetable for choosing a candidate.

Laschet, 60, a centrist widely seen as a Merkel continuity candidate, but who has clashed with her over coronavirus restrictions, has made it clear that he wants the candidacy.

Soeder, 54, an astute political operator who has sided with Merkel during the pandemic, has not formally said he wants the role, saying his place is in Bavaria.