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Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar/Pool/Getty

The race to lead Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came down to a conservative, a modernizer and a continuity candidate.

What happened: The party of Angela Merkel opted for continuity on Sunday, picking North Rhine-Westphalia Governor Armin Laschet, a centrist Merkel ally. With Merkel set to step down later this year after 16 years in power, Laschet is now the frontrunner to lead the German center-right into September's elections.

Like Merkel, Laschet is seen as a champion of German industry who backs close economic ties with China and Russia, but "the tide is turning" on those issues, says Sudha David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund.

  • Laschet has come under scrutiny for his positions on allowing Huawei into Germany's 5G networks and maintaining good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • "We have to look at what he said in the past as a reflection of his role as the governor of a state with lots of business interests with China and Russia, but now he’s in a new role," she says.
  • "He'll still have to support German business, but voters in Germany are starting to see Russia and China in a new light."

The state of play: The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, will pick a joint chancellor candidate this spring.

  • As CDU leader Laschet would be the traditional pick, but there could still be a twist if he's seen as "a drag on the party" in upcoming regional elections, David-Wilp says.
  • “The CDU is very pragmatic and shrewd and they’re going to go with a winner."
  • Laschet would bring a stylistic change from Merkel, David-Wilp says, in that he's a "real retail politician" unlike the reserved Merkel.

What to watch: David-Wilp says Germans aren't fully prepared for the "political earthquake" coming later this year.

  • “There’s a Generation Merkel here in Germany, and I think it will be difficult once she exits the stage.”

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.