Merkel’s party pon­ders suc­ces­sor

▶ In choos­ing chief, CDU mulls re­sponse to ris­ing far-right

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Ten­sions mounted in Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s cen­ter-right party on Thurs­day a day be­fore a vote to de­cide who suc­ceeds her as party chief, with splits deep­en­ing among party heavy­weights.

Econ­omy Min­is­ter Peter Alt­maier rapped for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble for openly voic­ing sup­port for cor­po­rate lawyer Friedrich Merz to suc­ceed Merkel as chair of the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU).

In con­trast, Alt­maier has plumped for Merz’s ri­val and Merkel’s pre­ferred choice, An­negret Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer, who is now gen­eral sec­re­tary of the party.

“Since Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble has now opened the flood­gates, I can say that I am con­vinced that An­negret Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer has the best chance to unite the CDU and win elec­tions,” Alt­maier told re­gional news­pa­per Rheinis­che Post on Thurs­day.

“She has done that sev­eral times un­der dif­fi­cult con­di­tions,” he said about the for­mer pre­mier of the small state of Saar­land.

Al­though Merkel her­self has shied away from pub­licly nam­ing her pref­er­ence, 56-year-old Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer is widely seen as her anointed crown princess. Merz, who quit pol­i­tics 15 years ago af­ter los­ing in a power strug­gle with Merkel, has long nursed a grudge against the chan­cel­lor and is re­garded by many as her neme­sis.

His ex­pe­ri­ence in the cor­po­rate world and his eco­nom­i­cally lib­eral po­si­tion have se­cured him sup­port from Ger­many’s busi­ness gi­ants.

Those party faith­ful who com­plain that Merkel has shifted the party too far left – on is­sues from im­mi­gra­tion to green en­ergy – are also look­ing to Merz to bring the CDU back to its con­ser­va­tive roots.

Schaeu­ble, the par­lia­men­tary speaker, on Wed­nes­day said he was “cer­tain that it would be best for the coun­try” if Merz won Fri­day’s vote at the party congress gath­er­ing 1,001 del­e­gates.

Schaeu­ble ar­gued that the CDU needs to win back vot­ers who have aban­doned it for the far-right party AfD.

“Friedrich Merz is some­one who can send clear sig­nals with clear con­cepts, who has the courage to not wait un­til the end of a dis­cus­sion, but rather to shape it,” the CDU heavy­weight told Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung.

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