BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) - Mr Armin Laschet signalled he's prepared to step aside as the head of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as fallout continues from the conservatives' electoral defeat last month.
In a video call with party members, Mr Laschet said the party needs new blood across the board, according to two officials briefed on the conversation. Later, in televised remarks, Mr Laschet said the party would announce leadership decisions in due time.
"We will tackle new CDU personnel - from the chairman to the presidium to the board - quickly," Mr Laschet said, adding that a party convention will be called. Mr Laschet led the CDU/CSU alliance into Germany's Sept 26 election, where his bloc posted its worst-ever result to lose the senior position it had held for 16 years under departing Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The CDU/CSU took 24.1 per cent of the vote, compared with 41.5 per cent as recently as 2013. Mr Friedrich Merz, a possible contender for the post of CDU chairman, said on Twitter that Mr Laschet had "cleared the way for a fresh start" for the party.
Mr Laschet, 60, has also agreed to step aside as premier of Germany's most populous state, under pressure from regional lawmakers.
His move comes as talks started on Thursday on a possible three-way coalition between Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) under Mr Olaf Scholz, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democratic Party. Talks on the potential tie-up could take weeks or months.
The decision by two potential junior partners to pursue talks with the SPD was seen as another snub to Dr Merkel and Mr Laschet as the conservatives may crash out of power entirely despite holding the second-largest number of seats in Germany's parliament.
In his televised comments, Mr Laschet said the Christian Democrats were still open for talks on a possible coalition with the Greens and the FDP. "We're not closing any doors," he said.
Coalition talks should not depend on who leads the CDU, he said.