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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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.

Biden condemns Russian aggression on 7th anniversary of Crimea annexation

Putin giving a speech in Sevastapol, Crimea, in 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the people of Ukraine and vowed to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in a statement on Friday, the 7th anniversary of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Why it matters: The statement reflects the aggressive approach Biden is taking to Russia, which he classified on the campaign trail as an "opponent" and "the biggest threat" to U.S. security and alliances.