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BERLIN (Sputnik) – The board of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has, by a majority of votes, supported party chairman Armin Laschet as candidate for the chancellor of Germany in the upcoming September 26 elections, Die Welt newspaper reported.

Reportedly, 31 votes were given for Laschet, nine votes for Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soeder, and six abstained.

According to N24 television channel, Laschet received 31 votes out of 46.

Laschet has repeatedly advocated normalization of relations between Germany and Russia, supported the concept of a free economic zone “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At the inter-social German-Russian forum Petersburg Dialogue in 2019, he said bilateral cooperation was of a pragmatic nature and positively assessed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Laschet demanded that Moscow conduct an investigation into the situation around opposition figure Alexey Navalny after the latter was hospitalized in Berlin.

Parliamentary elections are expected to be held in Germany in September, after which the winning party will appoint the federal chancellor to head the government and replace incumbent Angela Merkel who has been the nation’s leader since 2005.

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