German conservatives to replace Merkel with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as party head
07 December, 2018, 19:24 | Author: Myra Gill
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been elected leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democrat Union (CDU) party, bringing Angela Merkel's 18 years at the helm to an end. The politician is a supporter of the German Chancellor's policies and has been often referred to as Mrs Merkel's "protege" or even "Mini Merkel".
Ahead of the party congress, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a Merkel ally, said, "I am convinced that with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer we have the best chance of the CDU winning an election".
During her campaign to succeed Merkel as party leader, she repeatedly noted that she was able to blunt an onslaught by the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as it picked up seats in state after state.
AKK beat corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz, 63, who had quit politics in 2009 after losing a power struggle against Merkel and long nursed a grudge against the more centrist chancellor. She won the leadership with 517 votes out of 999 votes cast by delegates. She moved her party relentlessly to the centre, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children and allowing the introduction of gay marriage.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer has said she wants to improve on Ms Merkel's legacy and has suggested she would encourage debate within her party on issues such as immigration to encourage new proposals that could become government policy.
"The CDU of the Merkel years is falling apart", it said.
Pointing to the rise of populism worldwide and what she called a breakdown of shared Western values, Merkel said the order she had championed was at risk.
'We are in demanding times today, no doubt about that, ' she said.
"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, destabilisation 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. A third candidate, Health Minister Jens Spahn, was eliminated in a first round of voting.
"Fundamental questions must be asked in the party", she told German tabloid Bild.
She has indicated she would implement tougher rules on migrants, telling a German newspaper that while she owes much to Merkel, they have different views on a number of issues, and criticising her predecessor's "lack of consistent explanation on migration policy".
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.
At present, the center-right bloc is polling around or below 30 percent.
Regardless of which course the CDU charts, it is ironically the SPD that could decide Merkel's fate. The victor will likely lead the CDU in the next federal election due by October 2021.
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