German CDU elects right-wing Friedrich Merz as leader

  • The controversial businessman gains the support of the party by promising to break with Merkel’s legacy and could lead to pacts with the far right

Change of course in German conservatism. After 16 years with the liberal centrism of Angela Merkel as a benchmark, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has taken a turn this Wednesday by electing as the new leader of the party to Friedrich Merz, historical enemy of the chancellor and representative of the most right wing.

Merz, 66, will thus relieve the head of the German Christian Democrats Armin Laschet, a centrist who lost the national elections in September to the Chancellor’s Social Democrats Olaf Scholz and that it obtained the worst result in the history of the conservative formation.

In this way, Merz achieves the long-awaited position in what is his third attempt with 62.1% of the votes of the affiliates. The other two candidates, Norbert Roettgen Y Helge Braun, they had positioned themselves as heirs to Merkel’s legacy.

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Popular among party members, he has promised to break with the centrist course followed by Merkel during her 16 years as chancellor, which could bring the CDU closer to agreeing in certain regions of Germany with the extreme right from Alternative for Germany (AfD), until now isolated from any political agreement.

A West German lawyer, Merz was a top legislator in the early 2000s before dropping out to pursue a lucrative career at asset manager Black Rock. He returned to the German parliament in 2021.

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