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Merkel party pick to lead Germany 'not convincing': Bavarian rival

AFP
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Merkel party pick to lead Germany 'not convincing': Bavarian rival
German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes her seat before testifying in front of a parliamentary committee of inquiry investigating the financial scandal over payment systems provider Wirecard in Berlin, on April 23, 2021. - Chancellor Merkel will be quizzed on April 23 over her role in the scandal after it emerged she promoted Wirecard on a trip to China in September 2019 when the firm was eyeing a foray into the Chinese market. Once a rising star in the booming fintech sector, Wirecard filed for bankruptcy last year after admitting that 1.9 billion euros (USD 2.3 billion) was missing from its accounts. Lawmakers are investigating the political and regulatory failings that allowed the Wirecard cheating to go unnoticed for years, with critics saying early warning signs were ignored. (Photo by Michael Kappeler / POOL / AFP)

Tensions simmered among Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Friday as the State Premier of Bavaria openly criticised the man who beat him in a bruising battle to lead the alliance into elections.

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Armin Laschet, the head of Merkel's CDU, won a bitter fight this week against Markus Söder, head of the smaller Bavarian CSU, to lead the conservatives into September's election.

The vicious competition between Laschet, who is backed by the CDU's leadership, and Söder, who is more popular among the public, has left the conservatives bitterly divided.

In an interview on Friday, Söder said he was not impressed by the reasoning behind Laschet's candidacy, suggesting that it was not progressive enough.

READ ALSO: Meet Armin Laschet, the king of comebacks grasping for Merkel's throne

"I was not convinced by the rationale behind the candidacy. I stand for modernisation in the programme," Söder told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

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"I think for example, that modern economic policy must reconcile both the environmental and economic imperatives," he said, rejecting claims that he was positioning himself too close to the increasingly popular Greens.

Asked if he was the "more modern candidate" of the two, Söder said that would be a "presumptuous exaggeration".

But he later added that his "approach is perhaps a little more progressive", be it in the areas of environmental policy, gender equality or the high-tech agenda.

The vicious infighting within Merkel's CDU-CSU alliance has left voters looking elsewhere.

READ ALSO: Post-Merkel: Who stands the best chance of becoming Germany's next chancellor?

Polls earlier in the week even had the Greens overtaking the conservatives to top the surveys.

The latest INSA survey shows the conservatives back up on top but only with a one percentage point lead above the Greens at 23 percent.

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