Angela Merkel defends legacy as divided party picks new leader

07 December, 2018, 19:26 | Author: Wade Massey
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing her exit as leader of the Christian Democratic Union

Married to a mining engineer with whom she has three children, Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely known as KKK, faced the challenge during the leadership battle of both wanting to appear to support Merkel and signalling that she would take the party in a new direction.

By contrast, Mr Merz takes clear positions that appeal to rank-and-file party members hungry for a more clearly defined party after 13 years under Dr Merkel as chancellor.

The frontrunners are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel protege seen as the continuity candidate, and Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who has questioned the constitutional guarantee of asylum to all "politically persecuted" and believes Europe's biggest economy should contribute more to the European Union.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel waves after her speech at the party convention of the Christian Democratic Party CDU in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.

In a brief, upbeat address before the vote that brought many delegates to their feet, she called on the party to reject the politics of fear as the far-right makes inroads in Germany and Europe.

German conservative Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer wins over 51 percent of the party's vote.

"Angela Merkel is one of our era's most globally respected leaders, a statesperson of formidable intellect, commitment, empathy, and principle", said Margaret Wang, president of the Harvard Alumni Association.

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

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

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'I wasn't born as chancellor or as party leader, ' she said.

"We are in demanding times today, no doubt about that", she said.

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".

The third candidate - vocal Merkel critic and current health minister Jens Spahn - lost in the first round.

Handpicked by Merkel as general secretary of the party in February, AKK was immediately seen as the chancellor's anointed crown princess.

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

Outlining the multiple challenges facing Germany, from rapidly changing technology to climate change and a global shift away from multilateralism to defending national interests, she said: "In times like these, we will defend our liberal views, our way of life, both at home and overseas".

Meanwhile Germany's oldest party, the Social Democrats (SPD) - junior partners in Merkel's "grand coalition" - are mired in an even deeper crisis.

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