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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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ANGELA MERKEL

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel wins UN refugee prize

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday won the United Nations refugee agency's prestigious Nansen Award, receiving praise for her determination to protect asylum seekers while in office.

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel wins UN refugee prize

Pointing to the more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers welcomed by Germany in 2015 and 2016, at the height of migrant crisis sparked especially by the war in Syria, the UNHCR selection committee hailed Merkel’s “leadership, courage and compassion.”

At the time, the woman who lead the German government for 16 years said the situation “put our European values to the test as seldom before. It was no more and no less than a humanitarian imperative.”

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi hailed Merkel’s determination to protect asylum seekers and to stand up for human rights, humanitarian principles and international law.

“By helping more than a million refugees to survive and rebuild, Angela Merkel displayed great moral and political courage,” he said in a statement.

“It was true leadership, appealing to our common humanity, standing firm against those who preached fear and discrimination,” he said.

“She showed what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and work to find solutions to the world’s challenges rather than simply shift responsibility to others.”

READ ALSO: Five years on: How well did Germany handle the refugee crisis?

The selection committee highlighted that in addition to protecting people forced to flee war, Merkel was the driving force behind Germany’s collective efforts to receive them and help them integrate into society.

The Nansen Award, awarded annually, was created in 1954 in honour of the first UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norwegian Arctic explorer and  humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen, to mark outstanding work on behalf of refugees.

Merkel will receive her award and the $150,000 in prize money at a ceremony in Geneva on October 10th, where four regional winners will also be honoured.

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