Germany: Merkel’s party chooses conservative Merz as leader

Dec 16, 2021, 10:42 AM | Updated: Dec 17, 2021, 11:43 am
From left, candidate Helge Braun, new elected party chairman Friedrich Merz and candidate Norbert R...

From left, candidate Helge Braun, new elected party chairman Friedrich Merz and candidate Norbert Roettgen, attend a press conference of the German Christian Democratic Party (CDU) at the party's headquarters in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 to announce the results of a ballot on who will become its new leader. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) — Members of Germany’s biggest opposition party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, have chosen prominent conservative Friedrich Merz as its new leader, the party said Friday.

Merz’s election with a strong mandate appears to mark at least a symbolic break with the Merkel era. Making his third run for the CDU’s top post, he took 62.1% support in a ballot of the party’s membership to beat two centrist contenders.

A party convention next month will have to sign off officially on the membership vote, but that should only be a formality.

Armin Laschet, the CDU’s leader since January, is stepping down after leading the two-party Union bloc to its worst-ever election result in September, winning only 24.1% of the vote. The bloc, which the CDU dominates, was narrowly beaten by the center-left Social Democrats of new Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Merz, 66, has experience of being an opposition leader. He led the center-right group in parliament from 2000 to 2002, when Merkel pushed him out of that job. He left parliament in 2009, later practicing as a lawyer and heading the supervisory board of investment manager BlackRock’s German branch.

Merz returned to parliament in the September election. The online and postal ballot of the CDU’s roughly 400,000-strong membership was a first for the party. It said that nearly two-thirds of members took part.

Merz’s rivals were left far behind in the ballot. Norbert Roettgen, a former environment minister who has chaired parliament’s foreign policy committee in recent years, finished with 25.8% support in his second bid for the party post.

Helge Braun, who was Merkel’s chief of staff from 2018 until she left office last week, won 12.1%.

Merz failed to win the party leadership by fairly narrow margins at party conventions in 2018 and in January, losing first to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and then to Laschet.

Both subsequently struggled to impose their authority. A fight for the nomination to run for chancellor between Laschet and Markus Soeder, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, also exposed divisions.

Merz pledged Friday to “stand for the party in its full breadth” and said he would work to ensure that “different political opinions and directions” have a place.

“We won’t engage in fundamental opposition,” he said. “We will be a constructive opposition.”

Merkel, who positioned her party firmly in the political center, gave up the CDU leadership in 2018 and announced that she wouldn’t seek a fifth term as chancellor.

Merz promised that his CDU will be a “modern” party. In an interview with ARD television, he rejected the notion that he is a throwback to the 1990s, saying that is an “image that doesn’t fit at all with my fundamental philosophy, attitude to life and my political attitude.”

Lars Klingbeil, the co-leader of Scholz’s Social Democrats, congratulated Merz and said he looked forward to a “fair, democratic competition.”

“I think it’s great that there’s a culture of third chances in our country,” Klingbeil wrote on Twitter.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Sosie Bacon, left, and and Jack Sochet in a scene f...
Associated Press

Horror pic ‘Smile’ happy at No. 1, ‘Bros’ starts in 4th

Moviegoing audiences chose the horror movie over the romantic comedy to kick off the month of October. Paramount’s ” Smile ” topped the North American charts with $22 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday, leaving Billy Eichner’s rom-com “Bros” in the dust. Universal’s ” Bros ” launched with an estimated $4.8 million […]
1 day ago
FILE - This combo of undated file images provided by Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, left, and Jac...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: 3 more on trial in Michigan governor kidnap plot

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A scheme to kidnap Michigan’s governor in 2020 will get yet another airing in a different court when three men face trial Monday, just weeks before voters consider whether to reelect Gretchen Whitmer to a second term. Fourteen men were arrested two years ago, disrupting what one participant said was a […]
1 day ago
Tony Rivera carries items recovered from his family's waterlogged car through receding flood waters...
Associated Press

Poor Florida neighborhood battered by flood tries to recover

HARLEM HEIGHTS, Fla. (AP) — The Gladiolus Food Pantry usually hands out supplies on Wednesdays to about 240 families, so when Hurricane Ian swept through that day and canceled their distribution, it was left full of flats of canned black beans, bags of rice, meats, bread and produce — food that helps families struggling with […]
1 day ago
In this image made from video, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signs an application for ''a...
Associated Press

9 NATO members urge support for Ukraine after annexation

PRAGUE (AP) — The heads of nine European NATO members on Sunday issued a joint statement backing a path to membership for Ukraine in the U.S.-led security alliance, and calling on all 30 NATO nations to ramp up military aid for Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise move Friday to apply for fast-track […]
1 day ago
FILE - Police stand near toppled chairs lining W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV...
Associated Press

Defendant to represent himself in Wisconsin parade trial

Darrell Brooks’ trial was never going to be easy for the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. Now it could hurt even more. Brooks plowed through the city’s Christmas parade in his Ford Escape last year, killing six people and injuring dozens more, prosecutors allege. His trial opens Monday with jury selection and is expected to last […]
1 day ago
Supporters of Capt. Ibrahim Traore parade waving a Russian flag in the streets of Ouagadougou, Burk...
Associated Press

Burkina Faso junta urges calm after French Embassy attack

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s new junta leadership called for an end to the unrest Sunday, a day after angry protesters attacked the French Embassy and other buildings following the West African nation’s second coup this year. In a statement broadcast on state television, junta spokesman Capt. Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho called on […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Germany: Merkel’s party chooses conservative Merz as leader