Woman elected to replace Merkel as new CDU party leader

Cheryl Sanders
December 7, 2018

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer waves at members of the Christian Democratic Union after her election as the new leader, next to German Chancellor and outgoing CDU leader Angela Merkel.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been elected as the new leader of Merkel's centre-right party.

Although Merz vows that he can cooperate with Merkel as chancellor, a CDU under his leadership would hearken back to the party before she emerged - a clearer tax-cutting agenda and a greater focus on security, especially when it comes to migration, as he targets voters lost to the AfD.

She has been interior minister of the state of Saarland before becoming its leader, a position she held for six years, and earlier this year was elected to the post of general secretary of the CDU securing 99% of party support.

Merkel announced in October she would give up the reins in her party, though she plans to serve her current term as chancellor.

She reminded the CDU of other electoral successes last year, avoiding mention of this year's setbacks in state elections, which were heavy blows for her. She said the party must not look to the past but the future.

"Whether it's the rejection of multilateralism, the return to nationalism, the reduction of worldwide cooperation to deal-making or threatened trade wars. hybrid warfare, destablisation of societies with fake news or the future of our European Union - we Christian Democrats must show in the face of all these challenges what we've got", she said.

For years, Merkel's popularity lifted the CDU and its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.

First-round poll results show her to be the favourite to win the race with 45 per cent of the vote seeing her easily progress to the second round of voting.

Mr Merz, 63, who lost out to Dr Merkel in a power struggle in 2002 and is returning to politics after a decade in business, is backed by CDU members exhausted of Dr Merkel's consensual politics.

The third candidate was a critic of Merkel. In Friday's vote, he was backed by CDU members exhausted of Merkel's consensual politics, including party veteran Wolfgang Schaeuble.

"I'm maintaining absolutely neutrality on the question of the personnel decision, and I think that's absolutely right", she told reporters at a reception on Thursday night.

The political is a protege of Mrs Merkel's and is often referred to as "mini-Merkel". "Merz could be tempted to see his revenge and lunge for power (as soon as next year)".

An AKK victory by contrast would make Merkel's final years leading the government easier.

'Now it is time to open a new chapter, ' Merkel said. "Opposing camps are forming".

The contest is wide open as 1,001 party delegates convene for the two-day party conference.

AKK is believed to have Merkel's strong backing but much will depend on how deep and widespread the longing is for a more conservative profile.

While Merkel remains popular, AKK inherits a diminished party which is now polling at roughly 30 percent, far below the about 40 percent enjoyed during Merkel's heyday.

Regardless of which course the CDU charts, it is ironically the SPD that could decide Merkel's fate.

Other reports by iNewsToday