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POLITICS

Merkel party pick to lead Germany ‘not convincing’: Bavarian rival

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.

Merkel party pick to lead Germany 'not convincing': Bavarian rival
(Photo by Michael Kappeler / POOL / AFP)

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.

“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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POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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