Markus Söder, Prime Minister of Bavaria, has applied to become the leader of the CDU/CSU in the Federal elections in September. The party summit of the German Christian Democrats met this afternoon to discuss the succession of Chancellor Merkel.
This creates a conflict between CSU leader Söder and CDU party leader Armin Laschet, who is also Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Söders candidacy has been alluded for months, but the Bavarian Prime Minister had not so far officially applied. Today both gave a presentation for the party summit, in which the two outline their future plans for Germany.
In a press conference at the end of the meeting, Söder said that both he and Laschet are capable, but that we need to look at who has the best chances of winning the elections. The choice of the party summit has not yet been made, he said.
Söder more popular, Laschet more party support
Followers of German politics assume that Söder will face Laschet, who has more support in the party. “Moreover, the CDU is larger than the Bavarian CSU of Söder, so it would be more logical if Laschet wins,” says TCCEIT correspondent Judith van de Hulsbeek. A CSU leader such as Kanzlerkandidat has occurred earlier, but nonetheless quite exceptional.
On the other hand, Söder enjoys a much greater popularity among the public. In a recent poll, only 19 percent of all Germans said that Laschet would be a good candidate. 54 percent said Söder was a good candidate. Söder is also more popular among Union voters, as the CDU/CSU combination is called.
Laschet is seen as a bridge builder, but has not been sufficiently stable during the coronaccrisis, says Van de Hulsbeek. “One moment he argued for easing, the next moment for a lockdown. Söder remained straightforward throughout the crisis.”
It is unclear when exactly the leader will be designated. Tomorrow the CDU summit (without CSU) will meet again and talk with Laschet. “If he manages to convince the entire summit, then Söder has little chance more”, expects Van de Hulsbeek.
Söder says he wants to be Kanzlerkandidat only if the CDU supports him. If the party does not want him, it will not affect the cooperation with the CSU, he said.
Somewhere this week the decision will fall, she thinks. The pressure to decide quickly is high, as the elections are in six months from now and the party is facing a dented image due to a recent corruption scandal surrounding the purchase of mouthcaps and criticism of coronation policy.
CDU/CSU on loss
In recent months the CDU/CSU has given a lot in the polls, but the Christian Democrats are still in the lead. At about 5 percentage point distance follow Die Grünen.
Due to the advance of the Green Party, a German coalition without CDU/CSU is taken into account for the first time in decades. Last month, the so-called traffic light coalition of the Greens, the Social Democratic SPD and the Liberal FDP obtained a majority in regional elections in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. The CDU van Laschet achieved the worst election results ever in both Länder.