13 Apr 2021, 12:29
Julian Wettengel

Conservative candidates put focus on climate as they enter open race for campaign top spot

Clean Energy Wire / ARD

CDU head Armin Laschet and his CSU counterpart Markus Söder have entered an open power struggle to become the conservative alliance’s candidate in Germany’s chancellor race, both putting climate action at the top of their bids. After months on the fence, Söder declared that he too wants the top position, risking a divisive struggle among chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. In an interview with public broadcaster ARD – their first media appearance after announcing their decision on Sunday (11 April) – both candidates first named climate action when asked about their priorities. “We need to draw up a modern programme that combines the economy and climate action,” said Söder. At a press conference after the CDU leadership decided to back Laschet, he laid out his bid: “My position is clear: I want a modern Germany. I want us to link the climate action issues with the economic issues. And I want to fight to ensure that we remain an industrial country and retain industrial jobs.” Laschet also put an emphasis on European cooperation and said this pledge was central to his bid. “We need a European Germany.”

Laschet is seen as the natural choice to win the nomination, as his party, the CDU, is the far bigger partner in the alliance with its Bavarian sister party CSU. However, voters don’t appear to see the centrist and Merkel ally Laschet as a good chancellor candidate. His approval ratings trail far behind those of Söder and the leaders of the other parties. Both candidates have a mixed legacy in the field of climate and energy policy. The conservatives could choose their nominee as early as this week, although the process is unclear.

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