Fresh one-to-one talks between the heads of Germany's conservative alliance on who should lead the CDU/CSU parties into the next election ended without an agreement, German newspaper Die Welt reported on Saturday.
The parties had set a deadline of the end of this week to decide who should head up their campaign as chancellor candidate at the September 26 national election.
Despite the talks which ran late into the night, the head of the CDU Armin Laschet and the chairman of its Bavarian sister party, Markus Söder of the CSU, refused to let go of their hopes to run as Chancellor Angela Merkel's successor, according to the newspaper.
The alliance is seeking a fifth consecutive term in power.
Why the deadlock?
A power struggle broke out in the CDU/CSU alliance after the pair both announced they were seeking the candidacy for the position of chancellor on behalf of the conservative bloc that currently leads the ruling coalition.
The CDU chose Laschet as its new party chair in January — the nominee normally goes on to stand as chancellor candidate.
On Monday, he received a further boost with the backing of regional CDU factions.
However, within hours, the CSU declared unanimously that it would back its leader.
Söder currently enjoys more popularity than Laschet among the German population.
Laschet’s popularity fell after the CDU's poor regional election results amid general dissatisfaction with the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former rival urges quick decision
Meanwhile, Friedrich Merz, who failed to secure the alliance's candidacy called on Saturday for a quick decision on who is to lead the bloc into the federal election.
"Settle it, Markus Söder and Armin Laschet. This country needs leadership. And the CDU and CSU are needed as the politically leading force of this country," he said at a campaign event.
Merz, who failed to become CDU party leader in January, is now standing for election as a lawmaker.
Has this happened before?
This is not the first time that the CDU and CSU were split over who should be their candidate.
In 1980, CSU leader Franz-Josef Strauss was nominated ahead of CDU candidate Ernst Albrecht and his then unpopular party leader Helmut Kohl.
In 2002, CDU leader Angela Merkel stepped back to allow Bavarian rival Edmund Stoiber to run.
The CDU is typically the dominating force in the conservative alliance. However, the CSU candidate had more popularity in both cases, and was widely seen as a more voter-friendly option. But they both failed to win the chancellery.
The current German government, under Merkel, is a grand centrist coalition between the CDU/CSU alliance and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).
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