(Bloomberg) — Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies are demanding a say on choosing the next conservative chancellor candidate, foreshadowing months of potential acrimony over who gets to run for the job of leading Europe’s biggest economy.The muscle-flexing by the CSU sister party to Merkel’s CDU underscores the complicated task of agreeing on a successor to replace the long-standing German chancellor, in what is set to keep the country’s government distracted at a time of global upheaval.The move also adds to growing pressure on Merkel after party allies said the process of selecting a new heir should be accelerated, making it more difficult for her to serve out her fourth term due to end in September 2021.Markus Blume, CSU General Secretary, on Wednesday stressed his party’s key role in selecting Merkel’s successor. “The question of the chancellor candidacy has always been decided jointly by the CDU and CSU and that will be the case again this time,” he said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.With Germany taking on the European Union presidency in the second half of this year, stability in Berlin is vital, he added.After Merkel’s chosen successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer this week took herself out of the running and said she will also step down as CDU leader, CSU Chairman Markus Soeder reaffirmed his position that his main task is to run the wealthy southern state. But he also emphasized his responsibility to steer German politics at the national level, thereby keeping his options open for a possible run for the chancellorship.While Soeder “has a lot of plans” in Bavaria, Blume said “you can be sure that we as the CSU and he personally will act decisively at the federal level.”Blume also echoed criticism from both CDU and CSU officials over the lengthy timetable for choosing Merkel’s successor. This process should not take until December, as originally planned, because months of internal wrangling and unresolved personnel issues can alienate voters, he said.Kramp-Karrenbauer will hold talks with prospective candidates both for her job as CDU leader and for chancellor already next week, the Rheinische Post newspaper reported Wednesday, citing unidentified sources from Merkel’s bloc.AKK, as Kramp-Karrenbauer is known, also plans to meet Soeder on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference this weekend, the paper said. It added that the CDU is looking to organize a special congress “soon” to decide who will fill the two posts, in what would be a concession to those who are critical of the succession planning process. Soeder is seen as something of a wild card to succeed Merkel, and both CSU candidates who contested the chancellery since World War II were unsuccessful. The three CDU front-runners are Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz, and Jens Spahn, though they are yet to declare their candidacies.Laschet, the premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is from Merkel’s centrist camp, while Merz and Spahn are more to the right of the CDU and came second and third respectively to Kramp-Karrenbauer in the leadership election at the end of 2018.The 53-year-old Soeder, who became Bavarian premier in 2018 and CSU chairman a year later, is Germany’s second-most popular politician, according to one poll. At the CDU party congress in November, he brought delegates to their feet with a punchy speech that enhanced his national standing.Soeder has shed his reputation as a party rabble-rouser, taking a softer line than his predecessor on Merkel’s migration policy. The CSU chairman has declared the far-right Alternative for Germany the party’s political “enemy,” while saying that the Greens have usurped the SPD’s position as the CSU’s main competitor.The CDU must first decide on a replacement for Kramp-Karrenbauer as party leader and then a joint decision will be made on the best candidate from the conservative bloc to contest the next election, due in September 2021, Blume said.“This can of course in the end be the same person, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” he added.(Updates with Kramp-Karrenbauer report from ninth paragraph)\–With assistance from Patrick Donahue.To contact the reporter on this story: Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net, Daniel Schaefer, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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