Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) picked a new leader, Stanislaw Tillich, to head the party in Saxony May 24, making his succession to the state premiership in the coming week a certainty.
Tillich is expected to become Saxony's state premier
Tillich is to replace Georg Milbradt, 63, who announced last month his retirement as the state's budget troubles mounted. Eleven of Germany's 16 state premiers belong to the CDU or its CSU Bavarian sister party.
A Catholic leader of the Sorb people, Germany's Slavic-language minority, Tillich is set to take over the eastern German state that has prospered best in two harsh decades since the collapse of German communism wiped out the region's industry.
Saxony has rebuilt around its car and semiconductor industries, but its finances were weakened when a state-guaranteed bank invested in US securities that became nearly worthless in the subprime financial crisis.
Tillich, until now state finance minister, was overwhelmingly elected chairman at a party convention in Zwickau with no opponent.
The state assembly in Dresden, which appoints the Saxon premier, is set to elect Milbradt's successor on Wednesday.
Milbradt said the main reason he was retiring was to usher in a change of generation, but he told a reporter he had also become fed up with carping from the junior partner in his coalition, the Social Democratic Party.