Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member Friedrich Merz officially announced his candidacy for the leadership of the party, speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday. «The CDU needs an awakening and a renewal. The CDU needs progressive political discussion and, in my opinion, this means that the CDU needs to get things straight about its trademark,» said Merz. The candidate added... Еще that the party should aspire to «give all people of the political centre a home.» «We cannot accept that parties from the left and right edges of the political spectrum, which are dividing society, are establishing themselves in all 16 regional parliaments and, meanwhile, in the Bundestag also», he added. Merz's announcement comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed her intention to step down from politics. Merz is a former chairman of CDU/CSU parliamentary group (2000-2002). In 2002, he stepped down as chairman in favour of Merkel. Reports label him as «Merkel's long-standing opponent» in the CDU, and tout him as «a probable front-runner» in the forthcoming elections.