Armin Laschet has won the support of the CDU party board in a late-night vote. He is now one step closer to succeeding Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Leading officials for the German conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party voted to nominate Armin Laschet as chancellor candidate for this year's election in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A majority of 77.5% of the party board — 31 members — voted in favor of the party leader. His rival for the position, Markus Söder, received just 9 votes.
The vote is not an official decision on the candidate for the conservative bloc which also includes Söder's Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU). However, Söder has said he would respect the decision of the CDU party board.
"It's about the best answers to the pressing questions of the future. And I am ready to run for office on our behalf," Laschet said after the board voted.
The vote was conducted after a six-hour-long online meeting. Laschet and Söder, the state premiers for the two most populous German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria respectively, have been facing off to become the chancellor candidate for the two sister parties.
Laschet called for Monday night's teleconference to reach a quick conclusion to the candidacy issue. "Today is the day to decide this," he said while convening the meeting.
The CDU party chief also invited Söder along but his rival said during a Monday press conference said he did not want to "interfere" with the CDU's decision-making, and pledged he would not hold a "grudge" if the party chooses Laschet.
A deadlock between rivals is generally broken by one candidate backing down, however, so far neither has opted to do so. The weeklong indecision has been seen as harmful to the conservative bloc's chances in September's election.
Laschet, 60, was elected leader of the CDU earlier in the year. By convention, the party leader stands as the chancellor candidate for the party.
But Söder expressed his willingness to run as the candidate after a surge in popularity in the polls.
Laschet has been seen as current Chancellor Angela Merkel's favorite and her spiritual successor. But a recent decline in popularity for the conservative bloc may bring an end to the 16 years that they have been in power under Merkel.
The bloc is polling only a few percentage points above the Green party who announced their chancellor candidate, Annalena Baerbock, on Monday.
Germans will vote for a new parliament in September. The result could change the balance of power and give a new party the chance to fill the top role of chancellor.
ab/nm (Reuters, dpa)