German Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to directly endorse Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder as her successor. Asked by the press following her meeting with the premier whether she sees him as a strong candidate to replace her, the chancellor said that he was a good leader of Bavaria, but declined to comment further.
Following four months of near isolation, Merkel made a surprise trip to Bavaria, arriving for a meeting with Soeder at the opulent Herrenchiemsee palace in the middle of a lake southeast of Munich.
After the meeting, Merkel said that she would accept invitations from other state premiers.
The chancellor's meeting with Soeder had been touted by German media as "a coronation" for the Bavarian head, with Bild, the nation's biggest newspaper, referring to the premier as "the crown prince".
The next national elections in Germany are set for 2021. Merkel stood down from her post as leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union in 2018, saying she would not seek reelection. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer took over as party leader months later and was widely expected to seek the chancellorship. However, she resigned earlier this year and said she would not run for chancellor at the next federal election.
According to the latest poll by Forsa, the Bavarian premier could hope for 52% of public support in the next election, placing him far ahead of other potential candidates for the post.