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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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UKRAINE

Germany’s Scholz says ‘consensus’ with Zelensky that Western arms do not hit Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees that weapons supplied by the West will not be used to attack Russian territory, Germany's leader said in an interview Sunday.

Germany's Scholz says 'consensus' with Zelensky that Western arms do not hit Russia

“There is a consensus on this point,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Ukraine’s Western allies have pledged to arm it with precision rockets and missile systems, as well as tanks, as it tries to push back Russian troops in its east.

READ ALSO: Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the intervention of countries such as Germany with his nation’s struggle during World War II.

“Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West,” he said Thursday on the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.

But Scholz rejected the comparison.

“His words are part of a series of absurd historical comparisons that he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine”, he said.

“But nothing justifies this war.

“Together with our allies, we are supplying battle tanks to Ukraine so that it can defend itself. We have carefully weighed each delivery of weapons, in close coordination with our allies, starting with America.”

He said that such a consensus-based approach “avoids an escalation”.

READ ALSO: Germany won’t send fighter jets to Ukraine, says Scholz

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