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Germany's Spahn mulls running as chancellor for Merkel's party - Bild

FILE PHOTO: German Health Minister Jens Spahn attends a news conference on the started coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, in Berlin, Germany, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Health Minister Jens Spahn is considering putting himself forward to stand as chancellor for Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc in a September federal election, top-selling Bild daily reported on Friday.

Merkel has said she will not run for a fifth term in the election and her Christian Democrats (CDU) are to pick a new leader next week. The winner would be a favourite to stand as chancellor but someone else could stand, not least because the CDU’s Bavarian sister party has to back the candidate.

Citing party sources, Bild said Spahn, who has been in the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic, had discussed his future role with various influential CDU politicians in the last few weeks.

A chairman of a CDU state association told the paper that Spahn was “very openly thinking about running and is saying so quite clearly in talks”.

In addition, a CDU state parliamentary party leader told Bild: “Jens Spahn has made it clear to me that he is open to running for chancellor if his poll ratings in March are much better than (Armin) Laschet’s.”

Laschet is one of the candidates vying for the CDU leadership, to be decided at a Jan. 15-16 conference. Spahn, 40, has backed Laschet for that job. He faces long-time Merkel rival Friedrich Merz and foreign policy expert Norbert Roettgen.

Spahn was a fierce critic of Merkel’s 2015 open-door migrant policy and lost a CDU leadership election in 2018. He won respect for Germany’s handing of the first coronavirus wave but is now facing some criticism for a slow vaccine rollout.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Daniel Wallis