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Armin Laschet said he called for a meeting with his rival to try and address the impasse. — Reuters pic
Armin Laschet said he called for a meeting with his rival to try and address the impasse. — Reuters pic

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BERLIN, April 19 — Armin Laschet, leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats, said he had invited Bavarian rival Markus Soeder to a meeting today at which Laschet would present a plan to decide which of them runs as chancellor candidate for their conservative alliance.

Laschet and Bavarian rival have been unable to resolve their week-long stand-off over who should be chancellor candidate for their conservative alliance, dubbed ‘the Union’.

With CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down after the election, pressure is mounting on the bloc to agree on a candidate as its ratings wallow near a one-year low, hurt by the government’s chaotic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Laschet said he had called the meeting of the CDU’s federal board for 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) and had invited Soeder, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

“I will make a proposal to the federal board on how we can now very quickly resolve the unresolved issue between the CDU and the CSU,” Laschet told reporters.

“I have therefore invited Markus Soeder to take part in this meeting, just as I am prepared to go to the CSU board,” he said. “I hope that we can come to the necessary decisions very quickly this week.”

As leader of the larger CDU, Laschet would normally be first choice. However, with a swagger that has made him consistently more popular with voters, Bavarian premier Soeder has sought to make his popularity a decisive a factor in the race.

Laschet, 60, is widely seen as a candidate who would continue Merkel’s legacy, though he has clashed with her over coronavirus restrictions. Soeder, 54, is an astute political operator who has sided with Merkel during the pandemic.

No chancellor has ever come from Soeder’s CSU. — Reuters

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