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Who wants to follow in Merkel’s footsteps?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Angela Merkel, here with one of the candidates Armine Laschet, will not run in next year’s German elections The race is on to succeed Angela Merkel, by becoming leader of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and potentially chancellor. She will not run again in Germany’s next general election, due…

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Angela Merkel, here with one of the candidates Armine Laschet, will not run in next year’s German elections

The race is on to succeed Angela Merkel, by becoming leader of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and potentially chancellor. She will not run again in Germany’s next general election, due by October 2021. It is the end of an era: Mrs Merkel has been steering Germany and shaping EU policy since 2005.Now three candidates, all men, have joined the race to lead her party. The woman she favoured to succeed her as chancellor – Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – resigned as party leader this month when the CDU was tainted by a political scandal in the state of Thuringia.A deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), now annulled, put a liberal in charge of Thuringia thanks to AfD and CDU votes. It broke a post-war German taboo: no deals with the far right or far left. Then came a humiliating blow to the CDU in Hamburg: in the regional election there the CDU got 11.2%, far behind the centre-left Social Democrats, who won, and the Greens.So, rough times for the CDU. But it is still favourite to win the next national election, with its Bavarian sister party, the CSU. So who could succeed Chancellor Merkel in the CDU members’ vote on 25 April?Friedrich Merz – conservative ‘fresh start’EPAThere is a legal vacuum in too many places in GermanyThe 64-year-old, like his rivals, is from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) – Germany’s most populous state, dominated by the Ruhr region’s heavy industry.He trained as a lawyer and used to lead the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. A millionaire with wide-ranging business connections, he casts himself as the candidate of “a fresh start and CDU renewal”. But it is his second bid for the top job: he narrowly lost to Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer in 2018.Presenting his agenda,
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