Centrist German state premier elected to lead Merkel's conservatives
CDU Federal Party conference in Berlin - The new party leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Armin Laschet speaks after his election during the CDU Federal Party conference. - Michael Kappeler/dpa

Armin Laschet, the centrist premier of Germany's most populous state, took the first step on Saturday towards succeeding Angela Merkel as the next chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy. The centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) selected 59-year-old Laschet to head the party as Germany gears up for national elections in September. Whoever is leader of the CDU is traditionally the party's candidate for chancellor. Laschet fended off a strong challenge from wealthy corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz in a run-off vote at the CDU's first-ever digital party convention, which was framed by the coronav...