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Thanks Stewart! Election day at CDU's conference is just beginning. Speeches by candidates Laschet, Merz, Röttgen start at 9:45 (Berlin time, so in 10 mins), then the 1,001 delegates begin voting at 11:10.

First up is Armin Laschet, the continuity candidate. Key messages: US example of dangers of polarisation; CDU can't take "Merkel voters" for granted; change requires experience, trust and teamwork rather than just big ideas; namecheck for his more-popular running mate Jens Spahn.

Verdict: not a bad speech tbh, nicely organised around theme of trust and teamwork that marked his father's work as a miner; the warning about the dangers of polarisation captured Laschet's own strengths and the risk of electing Merz

Next up is Friedrich Merz, the right-wing veteran. Climate change, digitisation, ideas blah-blah [aka I'm not a blast from the past]; don't fear the future; "consensus and compromise" require more contest; CDU must return to the "real centre"; no left-wing majority in Germany.

Verdict: weak, weak, weak. No organising theme, no coherence, just buzzwords over substance. And coming from Merz, the (genuinely valid) case for more robust political debate in Germany just comes across as cynical and reactionary.