Friday , June 18 2021

Merkel’s heir bolsters bid for chancellorship with state win


Armin Laschet boosted his chances of succeeding Angela Merkel as German chancellor by helping secure a decisive victory for his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the country’s poorest state.
In the final regional contest before the national vote in September, the 60-year-old party leader showed he can successfully guide Merkel’s party in a tight campaign. The outcome will help ease doubts about his suitability to lead Germany’s conservatives and take on the job of running Europe’s biggest economy.
The CDU halted its slide in recent elections, winning 37% of the ballots in Saxony-Anhalt, up more than seven percentage points compared to the last vote in 2016, according to preliminary results. The far-right Alternative for Germany, which was pushing for the lead in some recent polls, dropped more than three points to end up a distant second in former communist region with 21%.
“The national CDU under Armin Laschet now has the momentum on its side,” said Holger Schmieding, the London-based chief economist at Berenberg. “The concern that Laschet maybe a hindrance rather than a help should be deflated.”
In the run-up to the vote, Laschet appealed to the state’s mainstream voters to back the CDU, saying it was important to defend democracy from the anti-immigrant AfD. But most of the credit goes to Reiner Haseloff.
The state’s two-term premier was a reassuring presence throughout the coronavirus pandemic and won support as a national advocate for the former East — still less affluent than the West three decades after re-unification.
Haseloff, who had supported Laschet’s rival Markus Soeder to be the bloc’s candidate for chancellor, credited the win to his own track record as well as support from Laschet and other high-profile CDU officials in the campaign.
When conservatives are united, “they’re unbeatable and will provide the next chancellor,” he said in an interview on ARD television on Monday before heading to Berlin for talks with Laschet and other national party leaders.

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