International

Merkel ally wins race to lead her party

New CDU leader Armin Laschet, left, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,in this file photo.   | Photo Credit: THILO SCHMUELGEN

Armin Laschet, the new head of Germany’s conservative CDU party, is a sworn European and defender of multiculturalism who has promised to continue the centrist course of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The affable 59-year-old was elected as head of the CDU on Saturday, beating corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz and foreign affairs expert Norbert Roettgen.

Race for Chancellor

The CDU chairman traditionally leads the party and its CSU Bavarian sister party to the polls, meaning Mr. Laschet is in with a fighting chance of becoming Germany’s next Chancellor.

A soft-spoken political moderate with a reputation for pragmatism, Mr. Laschet is currently the leader of Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

He is a sworn Merkel loyalist who famously stuck by the Chancellor in 2015, when Germany left its borders open to hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and other hotspots.

Watch | Who is Armin Laschet?

If anything, he is seen as even more pro-migration than Ms. Merkel, celebrating diversity as a economic and social boon to his state.

During his campaign to head the CDU, he positioned himself as the Merkel continuity candidate, telling Stern magazine that “a break with Angela Merkel would send exactly the wrong signal”.

Mr. Laschet emerged as an early favourite when the race to head the party was thrown open last year after the resignation of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

But his path to the top was anything but smooth, with critics accusing him of flip-flopping and poor leadership over his handling of the pandemic in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 10:24:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/merkel-ally-wins-race-to-lead-her-party/article33589291.ece

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