Markus Söder bows out to Armin Laschet in chancellorship race
After many days of debate and dispute, CSU leader Markus Söder has withdrawn from the chancellorship candidacy race, meaning that CDU leader Armin Laschet will be the man to lead Angela Merkel’s conservatives into the general election in September.
Markus Söder withdraws chancellor candidacy bid
“The die is cast. Armin Laschet is the Union’s candidate for chancellor,” the state premier of Bavaria said in a statement on Tuesday, shortly after calling Laschet to congratulate him on his win. He added that he wished Laschet success and would support him without resentment.
Earlier in the day, Laschet had won the backing of the CDU party’s leadership, by a conclusive 31 votes to nine, forcing Söder to finally admit defeat and back down after a week of bitter infighting.
Laschet won the CDU vote, but Söder is the people’s choice
Laschet may have won the support of the CDU party leadership, but Söder has long been the winner of the popular vote, commanding far stronger support among the public. A recent opinion poll, commissioned by Bild, even saw Söder chosen as the nation’s most popular politician, above Merkel, with Laschet in 12th place.
A poll by public broadcaster ARD also found that 44 percent of Germans saw Söder as the most qualified candidate for chancellor, compared to just 15 percent who supported Laschet.
Laschet, who was elected head of the CDU in January, has faced a difficult few months, coming under fire especially for his perceived failure to take tough, targeted action against the coronavirus pandemic within his own state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
On Tuesday, CSU General Secretary Markus Blume described Söder as “clearly the candidate of hearts,” but conceded that under a democracy, especially an inter-party democracy, things had to be decided by majorities.
Race for the chancellorship is on
With five months to go until the general election on September 26, which will see Merkel finally hang up the chancellorship after 16 years at the helm, the CDU / CSU union has seen its poll ratings plummet in recent weeks.
On Monday, the Greens - who are currently polling in second place behind the conservatives - put forward Annalena Baerbock as their first-ever chancellor candidate, in a clear signal that they are aiming high in this election. The race is on.