Merkel rival Merz joins CDU party leadership race

Merkel rival Merz joins CDU party leadership race

German conservative Friedrich Merz, an erstwhile rival of Chancellor Angela Merkel, confirmed on Tuesday that he will run for the leadership of her Christian Democrats (CDU) at a party congress on April 25. “I have decided to run again for the post of party chairman at this party congress,” Merz told reporters in Berlin. “It is not a break with the past but a start and a renewal for the future.”

The premier of Germany’s most populous state Armin Laschet joined the race to lead the CDU earlier on Tuesday and won the backing of Health Minister Jens Spahn, who had been expected to run himself.

Laschet, who leads North Rhine-Westphalia, is widely seen as the Merkel continuity candidate. However, by teaming up with Spahn, a fierce critic of her 2015 open-door migrant policy, he could appeal to some on the conservative wing of the party, Reuters said.

The CDU succession debate was triggered two weeks ago, when leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer unexpectedly said she would no longer seek to succeed her mentor Merkel.

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