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Germany: Armin Laschet steps down as NRW state premier

October 25, 2021

The 60-year-old has served as the head of Germany's most populous state since 2017. His resignation comes after the conservative CDU suffered an unprecedented defeat in recent elections with him as its main candidate.

Armin Laschet addresses young members of the CDU
Laschet has had a long career in both state and federal politicsImage: picture alliance/dpa

Armin Laschet, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), resigned from his role as the state premier of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on Monday. 

The 60-year-old has served as the head of Germany's most-populous state since 2017. 

What did Laschet say about the resignation?

"For me, it has been a great honor to shape the future of our state and move North Rhine-Westphalia forward over the past four years as state premier," Laschet said Monday. 

His resignation comes after the CDU under his leadership suffered an unprecedented defeat in recent federal elections, with Laschet serving as the party's chancellor candidate.

Laschet had previously said he would step down from his role as state premier after the elections, even if he didn't succeed Merkel as chancellor. He will remain as acting state premier until he begins his term on Tuesday as a member of Germany's federal parliament, or Bundestag. 

Who will be NRW's next state premier?

Hendrik Wüst has been chosen by Laschet to succeed him as NRW state premier. The 46-year-old currently serves as NRW's minister of transport and is also the leader of the CDU in that state. 

NRW's state parliament on Wednesday is expected to vote to confirm Wüst as premier. 

Wüst, a lawyer by trade, is perceived as being a member of the CDU's more-conservative wing.  

Laschet had also stepped down from his role as party chairman of the CDU in NRW on Saturday. In his final address as state party leader, he urged members to remain united ahead of upcoming regional elections next year. 

"The CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia must never be divided again," he said. The CDU in the western German state had managed to heal its internal divisions while Laschet was leader.

What happened during Laschet's tenure as NRW state premier?  

During his tenure as state premier, Laschet responded to a standoff between environmentalists and energy giant RWE at Hambach Forest. He has also managed the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic and has been recently criticized for his handling of massive flooding in the Rhine region.   

Laschet originally hails from Aachen, a city on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands. He has a law degree and previously worked as a journalist before entering politics.  

His family has ties to southern Belgium, with Laschet also speaking fluent French. 

wd/aw (dpa, AFP)

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