Rivals miss Merkel succession deadline
Germany's conservatives have missed a self-declared deadline to resolve an internal feud over who should be their candidate to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel in upcoming elections.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavaria-only allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have been engaged in a messy struggle to decide who will be their chancellor candidate.
Influential members of the bloc have put pressure on the two candidates to end the bickering, fearing it is harming their efforts to win a fifth consecutive term in power in September.
The hopefuls are Armin Laschet, leader of the CDU, and Markus Soeder, more popular head of the smaller CSU.
Both are also premiers of powerful German states: Laschet in North Rhine Westphalia and Soeder in Bavaria.
The pair have been holding talks on and off over the past week with the aim of ending the dispute by Sunday.
But despite both characterising the discussions as constructive, neither has budged so far.
Soeder and Laschet met late on Sunday in the Bundestag building in Berlin but ended more than three hours of talks with no outcome.
Both camps were mum on the state of play and plans going forward.
If a decision is not reached on Monday, the question could be thrown to the parliamentary faction on Tuesday.
The CDU and the CSU traditionally field a joint candidate for chancellor.
Normally, Merkel loyalist Laschet would be a lock for the candidacy as leader of the heavyweight CDU.
But party support has dipped in the public opinion polls as Merkel's government struggles to manage the coronavirus pandemic, leaving an opening for Soeder to make it a two-man race.
Soeder, the brasher of the two rivals, is currently one of Germany's most popular politicians, having used the pandemic to hone his profile far beyond his home state of Bavaria.
Laschet has the backing of most of the CDU's top brass, although there have been notable defections.
Meanwhile Germany's surging Green Party will name a candidate for chancellor for the first time.
Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock have co-led the Greens since 2018, a time when the party has surfed a wave of popularity.
It is now running second behind Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc and in front of her coalition partners, the centre-left Social Democrats.
With around 20 per cent of the electorate saying they would support them in September, the Greens stand to gain dozens of seats in the Bundestag.
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