Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected to lead Germany’s CDU party, replacing Merkel
Often referred to as Angela Merkel’s “protege”, CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been chosen as the conservative German party’s next leader.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK, beat out her main rival, corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz, a staunch critic of Merkel whose win would have represented a decisive break from the current chancellor’s legacy and policies. The vote saw AKK win 517 of the 999 votes, while Merz took 482.
AKK has been referred to as a loyal follower of the current chancellor, but insists she’s not a “Mini Merkel,” telling German newspaper Welt last week: “I owe much to Angela Merkel, and many things connect us. However, we have different views on a number of points.” She went on to accuse Merkel of not having a consistent plan of action regarding migration policy.
As Merkel's handpicked successor, Kramp-Karrenbauer is a likely ally for Merkel, unlike Merz, who was once sidelined by Merkel in the 2002 leadership contest and sits on the right wing of the party.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is now expected to face an uphill battle as CDU leader. The party has recently experienced a significant drop in support, drawing roughly 30 percent at the polls, compared to the 40 percent it saw during Merkel’s heyday.
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 almost 10 minutes of standing applause.