Germany’s Merkel expresses support for Laschet as successor
BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed full support Sunday for Armin Laschet, the center-right Union bloc’s candidate who is hoping to succeed her as chancellor in this month’s German national election.
Merkel and Laschet on Sunday toured the town of Hagen and another region in North Rhine-Westphalia state that were badly damaged by flooding in July. Laschet is also the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, a western state that is the country’s most populous.
“Armin Laschet leads this biggest state of Germany very successfully,” Merkel told reporters in Hagen. “Somebody who can lead such a state can also lead Germany as chancellor.”
Germany’s parliamentary election takes place on Sept. 26. Merkel, who led the Union bloc to four election victories, said in 2018 that she would not seek another term. She has presided over the European Union’s biggest economy since 2005.
Laschet, who also leads the Christian Democratic Union party, is lagging behind the center-left Social Democrats in the polls. He has received particularly unfavorable reviews after a series of slips on the campaign trail in recent months.
The Social Democrats’ success in the polls is helped by the relative popularity of their candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is also vice chancellor in Merkel’s coalition government.
At a press conference with Laschet, Merkel said in the next three weeks “a full commitment is needed on all levels, both from the government and the campaigners.”
“There are a lot of things we need to do at the same time: there’s the coronavirus, the floods and then there is also the election,” Merkel said, adding that “I think that together we will do it well — and Armin Laschet knows he has my support.”
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