Markus Söder, a top potential contender for German chancellor, called for a “short but consistent” lockdown to fight the coronavirus in an interview published Sunday.
It’s a move that further aligns Söder, the regional leader of Bavaria in southern Germany, with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as her center-right political alliance prepares to name a candidate to replace her. Merkel sparred last week with her CDU party’s new boss, North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Armin Laschet, over his resistance to enacting tougher measures in his state to fight the pandemic.
Söder, head of the CDU’s regional sister party the Christian Social Union and Laschet’s top rival for the chancellor candidacy, said in an interview with Bild that Germany needs a nationwide pandemic strategy, rather than a patchwork of policies in each of its 16 states. He suggested a “short but consistent lockdown” could be more effective than a “half-hearted and endless” approach that has “not really reduced the number of new infections.” He suggested a consistent plan that includes an “emergency brake” when incidence numbers rise above 100, including exit restrictions, compulsory tests in schools and FFP2 mask requirements.
In the interview, Söder declined to criticize Laschet directly. However, he called for Merkel to have a direct role in the decision about who leads the CDU-CSU ticket in September’s election.
“A [CDU-CSU] candidate can hardly be successful without the support of Angela Merkel,” Söder said.