CSU leader Markus Söder has called on his party to remain neutral in the debate about the new CDU chairman. The Bavarian Union should also not stand on the side of a candidate when it comes to the candidacy for chancellor. All of the people who could succeed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer are suitable, said Söder, according to participants in a CSU board meeting in Munich. He also did not want to commit himself to one of the possible applicants.

He had previously denied his own ambitions for the chancellor's candidacy, which the Bavarian Prime Minister was said to have. However, he made it publicly clear several times that the CSU should be involved in the decision on the candidate for chancellor of the Union parties. However, this does not affect the party chairmanship of the CDU: "The party chairmanship is one thing, but the other is the candidate for chancellor," said Söder on Sunday in the ARD. In doing so, he contradicted the outgoing CDU leader, who had previously said that party presidency and candidate for chancellor belong in one hand.

Söder against the premature end of Merkel's term in office

The reason he gave was that the decision to chancellor at the present time would destabilize the government and the party. Other representatives of the Union parties argued similarly, fearing that the new chairman could be similar to Kramp-Karrenbauer, who, as CDU chairwoman and possible candidate for chancellor, always had to take Chancellor Angela Merkel into account. However, Söder rejected an early end of Merkel's term of office, for example to increase the independence of the new chairman and possible candidates for chancellor. Speculations about this are "tactical games" that are unworthy of the will of voters.

Kramp-Karrenbauer had announced last week that it would give up party chairmanship and that it had no ambitions to run for office as chancellor. This was preceded by the election of Thomas Kemmerich (FDP) as Thuringian Prime Minister with votes from the AfD, in which the Union members also voted for Kemmerich. According to reports, Mike Mohring, the Thuringian CDU leader who has since resigned, has not informed his parliamentary group about Kramp-Karrenbauer's concerns. At the time, her authority as party leader was considered to be damaged, also due to the ongoing internal criticism, for example by the Young Union.

The three most frequently named candidates for the successor of the party leader are the North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet, Health Minister Jens Spahn and the former Union Group leader Friedrich Merz. Spahn and Merz had already run for Kramp-Karrenbauer's election in December 2018, when Merz narrowly lost against them.

It is not yet clear whether all three of the candidates named are running - none of them have officially declared his candidacy. Most recently, Spahn had shown himself open to a "team solution", for example in the form of a double leadership. This week, Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to talk to the three possible candidates about how to proceed and announce the result of the consultations on Shrove Monday.