Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday chose Armin Laschet, North Rhine Westphalia state’s premier, as its new leader.
In 2018, Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, announced she wouldn’t seek a fifth term. She also stepped down from the CDU leadership. The latest decision ends an 11-month leadership limbo in the party after outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her resignation.
With 521 votes to 466, Laschet defeated Friedrich Merz, a conservative and one-time Merkel rival, at an online convention of the CDU. A third candidate, lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, was eliminated in a first round of voting.
Laschet, 59, was elected in 2017 as governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, a traditionally centre-left stronghold. He will now have to work to strengthen party unity, something Kramp-Karrenbauer struggled with.
Saturday’s vote isn’t the final word on who will run as the centre-right candidate for chancellor in Germany’s September 26 election, but Laschet will either run for chancellor or will have a big say in who does.