Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: Who is the new leader of Germany's CDU?

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: Who is the new leader of Germany's CDU?

(AAP) German Chancellor Angela Merkel embraces her newly-elected replacement as CDU leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The third candidate, 38-year-old Jens Spahn, is seen as a rank outsider in the contest, the CDU's first competitive vote for a new leader since 1971.

Parting gift: Merkel holds a frame with a baton signed by conductor Kent Nagano and was used by him as he conducted Beethoven's 9th symphony at the Elbphilharmonie venue during the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg. "Over her four terms as Germany's chancellor, her leadership has done much to shape the course not only of her nation, but also of Europe and the larger world".

Angela Merkel made a thinly veiled plea for delegates at the Christian Democrat party conference to vote for her preferred candidate on Friday, as the party prepared to make the biggest decision on its future in nearly half a century.

"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.

While she generally supported Merkel's open-door policy towards migrants, she has admitted that grave mistakes have been made, and has pushed for a ban on refugees with criminal convictions being allowed back into Germany.

For years, Merkel's popularity lifted the CDU and its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union. He won 157 votes.

While Merkel remains popular, AKK inherits a diminished party which is now polling at roughly 30 percent, far below the about 40 percent enjoyed during Merkel's heyday. 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.

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Critics have dismissed her as a mini-Merkel or Merkel 2.0 but observers say there are clear differences between the two women. 1001 delegates are electing a successor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who doesn't run again for party chairmanship after more than 18 years at the helm of the party.

She said that "we kept a cool head" and "we showed everyone" by recovering.

Merkel appealed to the party to show unity, noting that arguments in recent years over migration have showed "where endless arguments lead".

'I wasn't born as chancellor or as party leader, ' she said. "I have always wanted to do my government and party jobs with dignity, and one day to leave them with dignity".

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

Delegates hold a cardboards reading: "Thank you chief for 18 years as CDU chairwoman" during Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party congress in Hamburg, Germany, December 7, 2018.

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