Bayern regional leader Markus Söder said he was ready to run for German conservative block prime minister in the September elections, ending months of flirting with a run in Berlin.
The move is a contest to take over veteran leaders, even if the central right-wing alliance’s polls plummet, against Armin Laschet, the head of the CDU of Chancellor Angela Merkel, by the regional CSU party. Set the long zeder.
“If the CDU can help me, I’ll be ready,” Soda told AFP at a conservative crunch meeting.
Rachette, 60, a longtime Merkel ally, became the CDU leader in January, usually the first option to lead the CDU and its Bavarian affiliate CSU to the September 26 elections.
However, support from sister parties has fallen over recent responses to the coronavirus crisis, and some have called for Rachette to leave in support of the more charismatic Soeder54.
Soeder spent months, avoiding a clear interest in top jobs.
Towards the Sunday meeting, the Bild newspaper declared the Sunday meeting a “true weekend” in a fight for Merkel’s successor.
“We are now very interested in everything moving quickly,” said Ralph Brinkhaus, parliamentary leader of the CDU, before the talks began.
In a weekly interview with Bild am Sonntag, Rachette also called for a quick decision in light of the “mood of the entire CDU.”
“Unity is very important. It’s very good for the CDU and CSU to make decisions together, and very quickly,” he said.
Candidates are likely to be selected in a closed room, Rachette told broadcaster ZDF that conservatives would choose the ones “best suited for our election program.”
However, in an interview with Spiegel on Wednesday, Mr. Soda argued that the candidate needed to be “accepted not only by the party, but by the entire nation.”
Star Trek fans and fancy dress lovers have consistently outperformed Rachette in popularity polls. According to a recent survey by the public broadcaster ARD, 54% of Germans considered Soda a good candidate, compared to only 19% of Rachette.
As Germany’s largest federal leaders in population and region, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Rachette and Bavarian Chief Soeder also hit their leadership in the pandemic.
Rachette’s reputation as a credible continuity candidate was hit at the end of March, when Merkel criticized Merkel for being slow to impose restrictions despite rising infection rates.
Soda jumped on this occasion, praising Merkel’s response to the pandemic and arguing that he should help the Prime Minister decide who will be her successor.
“CDU / CSU candidates without the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel will not succeed,” he told Bilt last weekend.
Rachette praised Merkel on Sunday and told Bilt that “the course and style made the country better,” but also that the CDU / CSU “a new era has begun.”
He said the parties must learn from the mistakes made in the pandemic and strive to “reduce bureaucracy, make decisions faster, and drive digital transformation of government and the economy.”
Rachette remains likely to beat the party’s tycoon, but Soda has already gained the support of some CDU lawmakers as Conservative lawmakers lower their polls as tensions grow.
Confidence in the CDU / CSU has been hit hard in recent months by sluggish vaccination programs and corruption scandals over mask procurement, with conservatives at less than 30%, the lowest ever.
With the once fringed Greens just a few points behind, the CDU / CSU could face the real prospect of losing the prime minister for the first time since 2005.
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