BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats are considering holding a virtual party congress in early December to elect a new leader and possible successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Handelsblatt reported on Sunday, citing a party leader without name.
Germany is experiencing a second accelerated wave of coronavirus infections and having a personal rally for the 1,000-delegate parties as scheduled on December 4 would be irresponsible, a CDU presidium member told the newspaper.
There is no way we can justify meeting for a party congress when the rest of the country has to stay home, the conservative politician said.
Merkel called on her weekly video podcast on Saturday in public to stay home and avoid traveling where possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The daily number of infections hit a daily record of 7,830 on Saturday.
The 66-year-old chancellor, who has already resigned as party leader, will not run for a record fifth consecutive term in a general election expected in September 2021, meaning the CDU will seek re-election with a new figure.
An attempt to manage success on stage broke down earlier this year when Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who won a leadership vote two years ago just to fight for the role, said she would retire.
Three candidates – Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Roettgen – are now vying to lead Germany ‘s most popular party.
With coronavirus-limited campaigns, challengers had a rare opportunity to debate with each other at a televised event hosted by the party youth wing on Saturday night.
Laschet, North Rhine-Westphalia State Prime Minister, presented his experience as a candidate for continuity; finance expert Merz promised education and employment opportunities to younger voters; and Roettgen announced his foreign policy experience.
However, there was little to differentiate the troika platforms, which conveyed stunningly similar views on the need to accelerate digital transformation and link economic growth to environmental sustainability.
The German parliament this month passed legislation allowing virtual party conferences to pass resolutions and elect leaders, either by postal ballot or by secret ballot held in the country.
Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Edited by Alexandra Hudson
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