Merkel's party plans December 4 congress to choose new leader, sources say

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leadership meeting in Berlin, Germany, September 14, 2020. Michael Kappeler/POOL via REUTERS/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - The executive committee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) wants to hold a one-day party congress in Stuttgart on Dec. 4 to elect a new leader, participants said after the committee met on Monday.

Under the plan, the CDU's executive committee and board would meet on Dec. 3, with the congress held on Dec. 4. Party laws stipulate that the CDU must elect a new leader this year.

Originally, the CDU planned a three-day meeting but the coronavirus pandemic forced a rethink.

The new CDU chairman will be in pole position to be the party's chancellor candidate, though in theory the leader of its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), could run as the candidate for their alliance, dubbed "the Union".

Merkel, in power since 2005, has said she will not seek re-election in federal elections due by October 2021. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in February she no longer wanted to succeed Merkel and would stand down as CDU leader.

So far, Armin Laschet, premier of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, erstwhile Merkel rival Friedrich Merz, and foreign policy expert Norbert Roettgen are running to be chairman.

Laschet, who is positioning himself as the continuity candidate to succeed Merkel, was emboldened by a win for the CDU in local elections on Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Adair)

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