Germany”s largest party has delayed choosing a new leader and the likely successor to Chancellor Angela Markel for a second time.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had planned a convention in Stuttgart for December but confirmed on Twitter that the “pandemic situation” means the event could not take place.
Current party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had announced in February that she would not run for chancellor in the expected 2021 election and would relinquish the party leadership.
A first convention to choose the CDU leader in April was also postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The party’s general secretary, Paul Ziemiak, said the leadership still hopes to hold a convention with delegates present and will decide when to elect a new leader in either December or January.
An online vote to elect the party leader is not legally possible in Germany, but the CDU said they were pushing for this policy to change.
Alternatively, the party could hold an online convention followed by a mail-in vote, Ziemiak said.
Whoever wins the CDU’S leadership will be in pole position to become the center-right candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor in the next German election.
The three main contenders are Friedrich Merz, former leader of the CDU parliamentary group who had stepped away from front-line politics; Armin Laschet, the 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 Merkel’s government’s management of the pandemic, despite an increase in infections.
The party will partner with the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) to campaign nationally together and decide on a joint candidate to run for chancellor in 2021.