BERLIN, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — Germany’s governing party Christian Democratic Union (CDU) began its digital party conference on Friday with a key agenda to elect a new party leader, which is widely seen as the first step towards selecting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor.
The party conference in a digital format is a novelty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Never before had a political party in Germany elected its executive board digitally, according to the CDU.
A digital vote is set on Saturday, and to make the online election legally valid, a postal vote would follow the digital vote, with the final results expected on Jan. 22, according to the meeting schedule given by the CDU.
The CDU has been looking for a new chairperson for almost a year as the plenary party meeting was postponed twice because of the health crisis.
The current party leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, already announced her resignation in February last year as she lacked the necessary support among party members.
The three candidates running for CDU chairperson are North Rhine-Westphalia’s minister president Armin Laschet, former CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz and foreign policy expert as well as former minister for the environment Norbert Roettgen.
Public opinion on the outcome of the CDU party conference is divided.
Twenty-eight percent believed that Merz and Laschet were most likely to lead the party successfully into the future, while 24 percent attributed this quality to Roettgen, according to a Politbarometer survey published by the German public broadcaster ZDF on Friday.
General elections in Germany are coming up in September and Merkel repeatedly stressed that she would not run again. Enditem