Merkel’s Health Chief Steps Aside in Race for German Succession

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German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who won favor among conservative voters by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, said he’s out of the race for her succession.

Spahn, 40, said his goal is to become a deputy chairman of the governing Christian Democratic Union, Welt am Sonntag reported, citing an interview. That implies he isn’t competing for the party’s top leadership job, a potential springboard to running as the CDU’s candidate for chancellor in Germany’s federal election on Sept. 26.

Merkel’s Health Chief Steps Aside in Race for German Succession

Spahn, whose standing has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, sounded out party colleagues to gauge support for a bid to run for chancellor, people familiar with the discussions said this week. He backed off on Saturday, telling Welt am Sonntag he supports the candidacy of Armin Laschet, a CDU regional leader in Merkel’s pragmatist mold.

“I’m campaigning for Armin Laschet and what we offer as a team,” Spahn told the newspaper.

Merkel, 66, has said she’ll step down after the election after 16 years as chancellor. Ahead of the campaign in the summer and fall, CDU delegates are electing a new party head at a virtual convention beginning Friday.

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