Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

German chancellor Angela Merkel's party elects new leader after 18-year reign

German chancellor Angela Merkel's party elects new leader after 18-year reign

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel holds a frame with a baton she was given by Volker Bouffier (right) and Klaus Schueler (left) representing CDU members during a party congress of Germany's conservative CDU party on December 7 at a fair hall in Hamburg, northern Germany.

The 56-year-old Kramp-Karrenbauer has been the CDU's general secretary, in charge of day-to-day political strategy, since February. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer narrowly defeated Friedrich Merz, a one-time Merkel rival, in a run-off at the party congress in Hamburg.

Germany's ruling political party has elected a replacement for outgoing leader and political stalwart Angela Merkel.

Merkel has been CDU leader since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

But for the first time since 1971, CDU delegates were on Friday being given the opportunity to elect their new party leader from among several candidates.

She won a tough re-election battle in her native Saarland state on the French border in 2017, briefly halting a series of poll debacles for the CDU as it was racked by infighting over the refugee influx.

Merkel plans to continue as chancellor for the rest of this parliamentary term.

"The election of AKK as leader of the CDU is an indication of the continuing strength of Angela Merkel in her party". They were said to be reasonably close, and the lack of communication between the two raised eyebrows at the time.

A staunch Catholic, Kramp-Karrenbauer has spoken out in favour of a ban on doctors who carry out abortions being able to advertise their services, after a court case propelled the topic into the headlines, and is also openly sceptical about the "marriage for all" law campaigned for by her opponent, Jens Spahn, who is married to his male partner.

"It has been a great pleasure for me, it has been an honour", Merkel said, as she received a standing ovation lasting almost 10 minutes, and she was herself trying hard to hold back tears.

AKK will hold the party leadership, while Merkel will retain the chancellory until the end of her term in 2021.

Armin Laschet, premier of Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, said the CDU needed to begin projecting an image of unity ahead of European elections next May.

"The CDU of the Merkel years is falling apart", it said.

"I hope we emerge from this party conference well-equipped, motivated and united", Merkel said. Whoever wins will be favourite to run for chancellor in the next election, though that isn't automatic. She has moved her party relentlessly to the centre, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children.

At present, the center-right bloc is polling around or below 30 percent.

"The Merkel era is palpably coming to an end", political journalist and AKK biographer Kristina Dunz said.

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.

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

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