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Angela Merkel’s rival was elected president of the German Conservative Party
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The nearly 980 delegates from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voted by nearly 95% in favor of Merz, a 66-year-old deputy and sole candidate for the party’s president.

The German CDU Conservatives on Saturday elected Friedrich Merz, a former rival of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, as their new president, tasked with restoring a party divided since the defeat in the recent legislative elections.

The nearly 980 delegates from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — gathered in Congress by videoconference due to the pandemic — voted by almost 95% in favor of Merz, a 66-year-old deputy and sole candidate for the party’s president. Friedrich Merz — who has tried unsuccessfully to take the job twice in recent years — said he was “deeply moved” by his choice.

Advocating a return to the party’s traditional conservative line, after years of a more central positioning led by Angela Merkel’s former chancellor, Merz will have to relaunch a party that has plunged into a deep crisis after its defeat in the September 26 legislative elections. Poor electoral performance led Armin Laschet, the outgoing leader and defeated candidate, to put his seat up for grabs.

Today, Merz called on the party to close ranks around his leadership. “We have to be a strong opposition”, said the new president of the CDU, also referring to the need to obtain good results in the various regional elections scheduled for this year in the country.

After 16 years at the helm of the government in Germany, the CDU began a political “crossing the desert”, in opposition to the coalition government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats alongside the ecologists and the liberal party.

The new leader of the Conservatives attacked Scholz, whom he accused of inaction both in the debate on mandatory vaccination against covid-19 and in the discussion on the crisis on Ukraine’s borders. While he has not directly attacked former Chancellor Angela Merkel, Merz has made no secret of his desire to break with her political heritage.

The rivalry between Merkel and Merz dates back to the early 2000s, when the then CDU president sacked him as chairman of the party’s parliamentary group. In 2009, Merz completely retired from political life and became involved in the world of finance, where he made his fortune. The owner of two planes — one of which he pilots himself — last year resigned from his role at the company he led, Blackrock, one of the world’s largest asset managers.

source: with agencies

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