German CDU elects Kramp-Karrenbauer as new party leader

Frederick Owens
December 8, 2018

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was elected Friday the new leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU).

It was her toughness as a campaigner that then convinced Ms Merkel to bring Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer to Berlin to serve as the party's secretary-general, an appointment that quickly marked her out as the heir-presumptive.

In her farewell speech as party leader, Mrs Merkel praised AKK's 2017 electoral success in Saarland, in a clear hint of the chancellor's personal preference in the leadership race.

Once the applause had died down, the party immediately began preparations tp elect a successor who could help shape Germany's political direction for the next generation.

"She has done her best to distinguish herself from Merkel and enunciate that she has a slightly tougher more conservative position", says Mansfield.

Merkel announced in October she would give up the party's reins but plans to remain chancellor until her current term ends in 2021.

The third candidate, health minister Jens Spahn, appears to have less chance of winning.

Whoever wins will face towering challenges for the party, which is now drawing roughly 30% at the polls, far below the around 40% it enjoyed during Merkel's heyday.

While AKK, 56, is viewed as a keeper of the flame and similar to Merkel with an even temper and middle-of-the-road policies, Merz, 63, has become the torchbearer for those seeking a more decisive break with the chancellor.

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While she generally supported Merkel's open-door policy towards migrants, she has admitted that grave mistakes have been made, and has pushed for a ban on refugees with criminal convictions being allowed back into Germany.

"Chancellor Merkel spoke to the party delegates shortly before the election and there was no mistaking her choice", Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow at the Washington D.C. -based Atlantic Council and an expert on European politics, told Newsweek.

The decision by the 999 eligible members of the CDU suggests the party clearly favours a more of the same approach to their leadership.

Originally planning to become a midwife, the headmaster's daughter moved into politics during her teens, joining the CDU at the age of 19. She said the party must not look to the past but the future. She also celebrated Germany's balancing its budget in recent years and its response to the eurozone debt crisis. He won 157 votes.

Merkel's fourth-term governing coalition with the center-left Social Democrats has lurched through a series of crises since taking office in March, and the CDU has lost supporters both to the liberal Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

"We are facing a turning point and need a breakthrough for the next years".

"In hard times we shouldn't forget our Christian and democratic stance", she said.

"I am grateful for the time that is behind me, and I am glad for being able to continue working as chancellor", she said. "I have always wanted to do my government and party jobs with dignity, and one day to leave them with dignity. now it is time to open a new chapter".

Waving orange cards with the slogan "Thank you boss", delegates cheered as Merkel, 64, walked onto the stage at the conference centre in Hamburg, her birthplace, to end an era for the party.

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