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CDU Leader Demands Quick Decision on German Chancellor Candidacy

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The leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union is demanding a quick decision about the conservative bloc’s candidate for the September national elections that will determine the successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“When I consider the mood in the CDU, the decision should be made very soon,” party leader Armin Laschet was quoted as saying in an interview with the tabloid Bild on Sunday. Still, he made clear that no decision can be expected from today’s leadership meeting of the conservative bloc’s caucus group that’s also being attended by Laschet’s main opponent, Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder.

Soeder, head of the CSU — the CDU’s Bavarian sister party — has emerged as the clear favorite to succeed Merkel. He would get 39% in a direct vote against Green party leader Annalena Baerbock, who is on 20%, and the SPD candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who has 14%, according to a survey by the polling institute Forsa. In a similar race, Laschet would get just 16%, finishing behind both Baerbock (23%) and Scholz (17%).

Still, as leader of the much bigger CDU, Laschet will have the first shot at the candidacy. But there is a growing number of conservative lawmakers who want Soeder because they fear they will lose their seat in the Bundestag after the next election. The Bavarian premier himself hasn’t yet said openly that he would be willing to run, but according to sources close to him he’s only waiting for a number of senior CDU officials to demand his candidacy.

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Traditionally, the CDU has fielded the conservative group’s chancellor candidate. Both times a CSU leader ran — Franz Josef Strauss in 1980 and Edmund Stoiber in 2002 — they were unsuccessful.

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“We have a great interest that the whole thing will be decided quickly,” caucus leader Ralph Brinkhaus said Sunday before the meeting in Berlin. “We will be one step further by this evening.” His CSU colleague Alexander Dobrindt suggested that a decision will be reached “within the next two weeks.”

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