German govt sets Sept 26 for national elections

The German government on Wednesday agreed on September 26 next year for the general election to choose a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, a government spokeswoman said.
Merkel has said she will not stand for a fifth term and will retire from politics next year after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economic power and the EU’s most populous country.
Her departure will mark a new, less certain phase in German politics and at the heart of the European Union, whose rotating presidency Merkel currently holds.
The government “proposes to the federal president the date of Sunday, September 26, 2021 for the election of the 20th Bundestag (lower house of parliament),” spokeswoman Martina Fietz told reporters.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier must still give his official approval. The race to fill Merkel’s shoes still looks wide open, as her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party remains embroiled in an increasingly bitter leadership battle that has been extended by the pandemic.
There are currently three hopefuls for the top job in Germany’s biggest party, with a twice-delayed election for a new chief now scheduled for mid-January.
North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz and foreign affairs expert Norbert Rottgen are vying for the post.
The candidates have proposed an online congress if meeting in person were to be impossible because of restrictions to curb coronavirus transmission. — AFP