Germany’s centre-right ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), will today elect a new leader as part of its 33rd Congress.
The vote follows the current CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s resignation last February after the German state of Thuringia elected Thomas Kemmerich Minister-President with votes from the far-right populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Kramp-Karrenbauer’s potential successors include Armin Laschet, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia; Friedrich Merz, a lawyer and former CDU leader; and Norbert Röttgen, current chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee
One thousand and one delegates will vote in the election with 501 votes needed to win. If no candidate receives the 501-vote threshold, a runoff will be held between the two highest-scoring candidates. Current polls suggest that the first round will result in a runoff between Merz and Röttgen with Merz eventually claiming victory. If elected, he will lead the CDU into the German federal election scheduled for September.
Merz has vowed to win voters back from the AfD, which has been steadily gaining ground on the CDU, primarily in Eastern Germany. While the CDU is still expected to win the largest vote-share in September, failure to win back AfD voters could signal a resurgence in German far-right populism.
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Chris is a Content Editor and Analyst for the Daily Brief. His writing focuses on the political economies of North America, the United Kingdom and Oceania.