Germany's CDU picks new leader for post-Merkel era

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats party has elected its new leader on Saturday (January 16).

This put centrist Armin Laschet in pole position to succeed Merkel as the country's chief.

Laschet, the premier of the country's most populous state, beat arch-conservative rival Freidrich Merz in a ballot of CDU party delegates.

In his victory speech, Laschet urged democratic forces to rally against a tide of extremism that had swept through Western nations along with the coronavirus pandemic.

Merkel, Europe's predominant politician and a consistent winner with German voters since taking office in 2005, has said she will not run for chancellor again.

Since she stepped down as CDU leader in Dec. 2018, the party has struggled to find a suitable successor.

Merkel said last year that Laschet, had quote "the tools" to run for chancellor, the closest she has come to endorsing anyone.

But even as leader, Laschet is not guaranteed a run at the chancellorship, as the party could yet nominate someone else.