The leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party suggested yesterday that her successor, who will probably also run for the country's top job in an election next year, probably won't be chosen before December.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded Ms Merkel as leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in late 2018. She struggled to impose her authority before announcing in February that she wouldn't run for chancellor in the 2021 election and would relinquish the party leadership.
A special convention was meant to be held later this month for about 1,000 delegates to choose the new CDU leader. But that was cancelled as Germany banned large gatherings because of the coronavirus crisis, and no new date was named.
The CDU was already due to hold a regular convention in early December. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer told news agency dpa that the further a special meeting gets pushed back, "the smaller the demand is for a convention that would happen only a few weeks before the regular one".
Gatherings of more than two people in public are currently banned in Germany. But Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said the party hopes developments will allow it to hold the regular convention in Stuttgart in December as planned.
There are three main contenders for the CDU leadership: Friedrich Merz, a conservative former leader of its parliamentary group; Armin Laschet, the more liberal governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state; and Norbert Roettgen, who chairs parliament's foreign affairs committee.
The CDU's poll ratings have been bolstered by the government's management of the epidemic. But Ms Merkel has vowed not to seek a fifth term.