2 German state governors want to be center-right candidate

BERLIN — Two German state governors on Sunday declared their willingness to become the center-right candidate for the country’s Sept. 26 national election.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t seeking a fifth term after 16 years in power. Her center-right Union bloc has yet to choose its candidate between two state governors, Armin Laschet and Markus Soeder.

“Markus Soeder and I had a long talk,” Laschet told reporters after a meeting of the leaders of the parliamentary party factions of the Union bloc. “We both have declared our willingness to run for the candidacy for the chancellery.”

Armin Laschet, who is the governor of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, won the leadership of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, in January. He hopes to succeed Merkel as chancellor as does Soeder, who is Bavaria’s governor and the head of the CDU’s Bavaria-only sister party CSU.

The center-right Union bloc, which is made up by the two parties but dominated by the CDU, hasn’t yet decided on its candidate for the parliamentary election. However, a decision is expected in the coming days.

“There’s a big expectation to come to a solution together, rather sooner than later, regarding the question of the candidacy for chancellery,” Soeder said. “We determined that both of us are capable and both are ready, which is important, and that we both grant respect for each other.”

“It is our goal, in this situation in which the country finds itself, with a chancellor, who is leaving office, to create as much unity as possible between the CDU and the CSU,” Laschet said.