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Germany: Merkel's party will have to wait for new leader

BERLIN (AP) — The leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party suggested Tuesday that her successor, who likely also will run for the nation’s top job in an election next year, probably won’t be chosen before December.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded Merkel as leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union in late 2018. She struggled to impose her authority before announcing in February that she wouldn’t run for chancellor in the 2021 election and would relinquish the party leadership.

A special convention was meant to be held in late April for about 1,000 delegates to choose the new CDU leader. But that was canceled as Germany banned large gatherings because of the coronavirus crisis, and no new date was named.

The CDU already was due to hold a regular convention in early December. Kramp-Karrenbauer told news agency dpa that the further a special meeting gets pushed back, “the smaller the demand is for a convention that would happen only a few weeks before the regular one.”

One of the contenders to replace her, Friedrich Merz, also said it was unclear whether it would be possible to hold a convention before December. Gatherings of more than two people in public are currently banned in Germany, and it isn’t yet clear when and how restrictions will be loosened. Kramp-Karrenbauer said the party hopes developments will allow it to hold the regular convention in Stuttgart in December as planned.

There are three main contenders for the CDU leadership: Merz, a conservative former leader of its parliamentary group; Armin Laschet, the more liberal governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state; and Norbert Roettgen, who chairs parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

The CDU’s poll ratings have been bolstered by government's management of the coronavirus epidemic. But Merkel, 65, has vowed not to seek a fifth term as chancellor.

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