Earlier in the day, the CDU launched a two-day party online conference. During the conference, the delegates will elect a new party leader, likely to be the party's candidate for the chancellor's office during the general election in September. Three people are currently vying for the position: business lobbyist Friedrich Merz; Armin Laschet, the premier of the North Rhine-Westphalia state, and the chairman of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, Norbert Rottgen. To win in the first round, a candidate must have at least 51 percent of the vote. If no one wins in the first round, a runoff between the two strongest candidates will occur.
"Some parties have it easy, because they represent a separate group [of citizens], but as a national centrist party, we, of course, look for solutions to redress conflicts and support economic base and social cohesion [...] This protects us from rushed judgments and answers that are too simple, which some other parties could settle for. This has always differentiated us as the ruling party. It was like that under Konrad Adenauer, it was like that under Helmut Kohl, and we in later years also attempted that," Merkel said at the opening.
The chancellor expressed her hope that the conference will make the right decisions for the future.
Merkel lead the party until 2018, when she left the position, while remaining chancellor, due to a schism with CDU long-time ally the Christian Social Union in Bavaria over her government's migration policy.