2021 Christian Democratic Union of Germany leadership election
The 2021 Christian Democratic Union leadership election will decide the leader of the party for the 2021 German federal election and will take place during the party's 33rd Congress.
1,001 delegates in the 33rd CDU Federal Congress
501 delegates votes needed to win
The election was due to take place on 25 April 2020 in Berlin, following Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's decision in February 2020 to resign as Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), in part due to the Thuringia political crisis. However, it was postponed until December, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. On 14 September 2020, at the conclusion of CDU committee meetings, Secretary General Paul Ziemiak announced that the Congress would, due to the pandemic, be held as a one-day meeting on 4 December 2020, during which the leadership election would take place. However, in late October 2020 the election was postponed again and will not now take place before 2021, the year of the federal election to the Bundestag.
On 18 February, soon after Kramp-Karrenbauer's decision to resign, Norbert Röttgen announced his intention to stand for the party leadership. This was followed by a joint announcement on 25 February by Armin Laschet and Jens Spahn in which Spahn endorsed Laschet for the leadership and Laschet announced his intention to stand.
A few hours later, Friedrich Merz in turn announced his intention to stand for the leadership of the party.
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|Portrait||Name||Offices held||State||Announcement date|
|Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia (2017–present)
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (2012–present)
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia (2012–present)
|North Rhine-Westphalia||25 February 2020|
|Leader of CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag and Leader of the Opposition (2000–2002)
Member of the Bundestag (1994–2009)
Member of the European Parliament (1989–1994)
|North Rhine-Westphalia||25 February 2020|
|Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee (2014–present)
Member of the Bundestag (1994–present)
Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (2009–2012)
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (2010–2012)
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in North Rhine-Westphalia (2010–2012)
|North Rhine-Westphalia||18 February 2020|
The premier of the populous North Rhine-Westphalia region since 2017, Armin Laschet chose Jens Spahn, minister of health and candidate in the previous CDU leadership election, as his deputy. Characterizing his campaign as a bridge between the centrist and right-wing factions, Laschet sees his leadership with Spahn as able to solve the crisis in the CDU, which has been rocked by the fallout from regional CDU lawmakers voting with the far-right to elect the premier of the eastern state of Thuringia and which suffered one of its worst-ever electoral results in Hamburg.
A CDU member since 1979, Laschet has held a variety of positions in local, state, federal and European politics, including stints as an MEP and regional minister overseeing the integration of migrants. Seen as a moderate who is close to Angela Merkel's vision of the CDU, Laschet is a devout Catholic who opposed same-sex marriage and has advocated banning headscarves for girls up to age 14. Despite those views, Laschet tapped Spahn, a married gay man, to be his deputy and is seen as a champion of migrant rights. Laschet is widely considered to be good-natured and adept at building consensus while critics say he is too much like Merkel and not conservative enough to win back voters the CDU lost to the far-right. Some also accused him of having dangerous views in foreign affairs, describing him as being overly friendly towards Russia and China.
Friedrich Merz is a returning rival of Merkel hoping to bring voters lost by Merkel's centrism back to the CDU. After losing leadership of the party in the early 2000s, Merz lost his position as leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag and left the Bundestag in 2009 for a career in the private sector. Since his first political retirement, Merz has worked for insurer Axa, chemical giant BASF and investment group BlackRock. When Merkel announced her resignation from the CDU leadership, Merz announced he would challenge Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel's preferred successor, for the position as leader in 2017. He was unsuccessful in winning leadership in 2018, placing second behind Kramp-Karrenbauer.
A law and order, free-market conservative, Merz promises to win back disgruntled CDU voters who have defected to the far-right Alternative for Germany. Both allies and rivals attest to Merz's sharp mind and detailed knowledge of complicated policy issues. However, critics say that he is too right-wing for the party, having opposed a 1997 reform to criminalize rape within marriage and advocating the so-called Leitkultur, which is the promotion of German culture, mores and traditions among immigrants.
The chair of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee and served as federal environment minister between 2009 and 2012, Norbert Röttgen joined the CDU in high school and built a career in the party, becoming a member of parliament in 1994. Röttgen fell out of favour with Merkel in 2012 after choosing to run for the premiership in North-Rhine Westphalia and achieving one of the worst results in his party's history. He was sacked from cabinet days after the result.
A centrist, Röttgen is well-liked by older, establishment CDU insiders. He advocates the core values of the old German republic — transatlanticism, the Franco–German partnership and a strong anchoring of Germany in the European Union. Seen as solidly grounded in all the major political issues of the day, critics have pointed to his loss in North Rhine-Westphalia and that he "lacks the common touch" to steer the party in the current state of German politics.
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