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Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

  • The union of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), will select its nominee to become chancellor in the spring, with Laschet now positioned as the front-runner.
  • After the contest, Laschet said that he wanted to ensure that the next German chancellor would be from the CDU/CSU union.

The big picture: Laschet will replace Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who had been Merkel's hand-picked successor. She resigned resigned as part chair in 2018 with the CDU losing votes to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and to the Greens on the left.

  • The party has regained strength due to perceptions that Merkel has handled the COVID-19 crisis successfully.
  • The CDU/CSU union leads the most recent opinion poll with 37%, followed by the Greens (20%), the center-left Social Democratic Party (15%) and the AfD (10%).

The bottom line: Laschet, a Merkel loyalist, has promised to keep the party in the "middle of society," signaling a preservation of Merkel's policies.

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.