The can­di­dates

The Sunday Telegraph - - World news -

Friedrich Merz, 62, the back to the fu­ture can­di­date: Stag­ing an un­likely come­back af­ter re­tir­ing from pol­i­tics in 2002. An eco­nomic lib­eral and so­cial con­ser­va­tive, he in­tro­duced the con­cept of Leitkul­tur to the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate, ar­gu­ing there is a dom­i­nant in­dige­nous cul­ture which im­mi­grants must re­spect. Since quit­ting pol­i­tics he has made mil­lions in the pri­vate sec­tor. En­dorsed by the CDU busi­ness wing and sev­eral party heavy­weights from the Right, but has his time passed?

An­negret Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer, 56, the “MiniMerkel”: It’s no se­cret AKK, as she is known, is Mrs Merkel’s pre­ferred suc­ces­sor. The two women share a prag­matic, cen­trist view. But Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer is more than just a Merkel clone. A for­mi­da­ble cam­paigner, she halted the seem­ingly un­stop­pable ad­vance of the So­cial Democrats (SPD) last year. Seen as so­cially lib­eral but is a com­mit­ted Catholic and can be con­ser­va­tive on is­sues such as gay mar­riage. Likes to re­lax by lis­ten­ing to AC/DC. The favourite, but can she shake off the Merkel Mark II tag?

Jens Spahn, 38, the Next Gen­er­a­tion: Long seen as the stan­dard­bearer of the party Right, the am­bi­tious health min­is­ter has taken on Mrs Merkel over her mi­grant pol­icy. At times he has been seen by the party estab­lish­ment as go­ing too far, but won praise for his fo­cus on the health min­istry this year. Seen as so­cially con­ser­va­tive over im­mi­gra­tion, but is no throw­back: he is openly gay and mar­ried his part­ner last year. Se­nior fig­ures in the party are said to be­lieve he is not ready for the lead­er­ship. Can his bid sur­vive?

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