Merkel’s ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected to lead Germany’s CDU party

Merkel’s ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected to lead Germany’s CDU party

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected on Friday (7 December) by Germany's largest ruling party, the Christian Democrats (CDU) to lead the party and thus to likely be the next chancellor of Europe's economic and political powerhouse in a post-Merkel era.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, appointed earlier this year by Merkel as the party's general secretary, withstood an energetic challenge from Merz, who was seeking a political comeback with the backing of party heavyweights such as former finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

But she clinched only a narrow victory over Friedrich Merz, a long-time Merkel rival, in a run-off vote in Hamburg, with 51.8% of the vote.

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

Merkel also had a message for President Donald Trump, stating that her party had to show its strengths in an age of "growing renunciation of multilateralism" and in times of "reducing global cooperation to the principles of deal-making".

Merkel - who surprised her party and country in late October when she announced she would not be seeking re-election as CDU leader - on Friday delivered her farewell speech, receiving nearly 10 minutes of standing applause.

She outmanoeuvred her critics by leaving the party's leadership, but retaining the chancellery to remain in charge of her legacy and succession.

During her speech, Merkel urged the party to join together and show Germans it can lead their country through turbulent times of growing polarization and crises like war, terror attacks and climate change. She was previously a popular governor of western Saarland state.

"What is close to my heart is that in the last parliamentary term of my political career, I'll be able to make a contribution that allows the renewed success of the CDU while maintaining our interests in matters of state", Merkel told delegates.

After a smattering of applause throughout the course of her final speech as CDU chief, Merkel was bid farewell with a rousing standing ovation that lasted about 10 minutes and included a brief encore.

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

A survey by pollster Infratest dimap for broadcaster ARD on Thursday showed 47 per cent of CDU members favoured Kramp-Karrenbauer compared with 37 per cent for Merz and 12 per cent for Health Minister Jens Spahn.

The new leader said: "I have read a lot about what I am and who I am: "mini", a copy, simply "more of the same".

"Leadership is more about the inner strength than outer volume".

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.

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

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

"Now it is time to open a new chapter", Merkel said.

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

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