Publicado: Sol, Diciembre 09, 2018
Global | Por Milagro Delgado

Merkel’s party chooses successor to longtime German leader

Merkel’s party chooses successor to longtime German leader

CDU party chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, left, congratulates the newly elected party's general secretary Paul Ziemiak, right, during a party convention of the Christian Democratic Party CDU in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. Kramp-Karrenbauer narrowly defeated fellow party member, Friedrich Merz - Merkel's staunch rival and the former leader of the party's parliamentary group.

In February Merkel rewarded AKK by tapping her to become the party's number two as general secretary, luring her from Saarland to Berlin.

The 56-year-old former prime minister of the state of Saarland was a party favourite and Ms Merkel's choice for succession.

On one hand, she was stepping down to try and save her party, but on the other, the German chancellor got what she wanted: to pass the baton to her protégé Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

"Merkel does not show much emotion herself but above all we respect her and want to show gratitude to her", said Tobias Loose, a delegate from the northern state of Schleswig Holstein.

Perhaps most controversially, she opposed gay marriage which was legalised in 2017 and supported by Merkel.

The newly elected CDU head has previously opposed the idea of withdrawing support from the Nord Stream 2 project entirely, but suggested reducing the amount of gas obtained via the route from Russian Federation as a response to the recent Kerch incident involving Ukrainian naval ships.

Those cracks became more obvious this week when Schaeuble, who himself handed over the party leadership to Merkel 18 years ago, openly endorsed Merz as CDU chairman.

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.

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The contest, which required a runoff vote to secure a 52-percent majority for AKK as she is known, is expected to increase the likelihood that Merkel will be able to see out her fourth term until 2021. Federal health minister Jens Spahn came in third. She has moved her party relentlessly to the center, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and introducing benefits such as encouraging fathers to look after their young children.

In 18 years of experience, she said she "learned that leadership is more about internal strength then external volume".

The 64-year old Merkel told CDU delegates in Hamburg she gave thanks the chance to serve.

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

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

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

Months before the national election where the CDU slumped to its worst result since 1949 winning just 32.9 per cent of the national vote, she managed to secure over 40 percent of the vote in Saarland, marking her out as a victor in a field of losers.

"There is still huge respect for Merkel because she gave stability in Europe at a time when things were rocky", said Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank.

"Angela Merkel is one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time", Harvard President Larry Bacow told The Harvard Gazette.

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