Merkel favourite takes the reins as rul­ing party votes for mod­er­a­tion

Irish Independent - - World News - Jorg Luyken HAM­BURG

AN­NEGRET Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer has been elected the new leader of Ger­many’s rul­ing con­ser­va­tive party, bring­ing to an end a his­toric pe­riod of 18 years with An­gela Merkel at the helm.

The cen­trist Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer, widely known as AKK, fought off a strong chal­lenge from mil­lion­aire banker Friedrich Merz, de­feat­ing him by just 35 votes from a to­tal of 999 del­e­gates to the CDU con­fer­ence in Ham­burg.

The nar­row­ness of the vic­tory pointed to deep di­vi­sions in the party, which has suf­fered a se­ries of dam­ag­ing lo­cal elec­tion re­sults since last Septem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion, trig­ger­ing Ms Merkel’s de­ci­sion to stand aside.

Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer be­comes the pre­sump­tive next Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many when Ms Merkel re­tires in 2021 – or ear­lier if ide­o­log­i­cal di­vi­sions within the party force the Ger­man leader to step down.

In an olive branch to Mr Merz, the new leader struck a con­struc­tive tone.

“This mo­men­tum needs to carry on, and we must be united and stay united in our goal which is to in­clude all of the wings of the party, all of its mem­bers and to be the peo­ple’s party of the mid­dle ground,” she said af­ter her win.

An­a­lysts said the de­ci­sion to keep with Ms Merkel’s cen­trist po­si­tion would en­able the party to coun­ter­act the rise of the Green party.

“This re­sult will give the CDU the chance to win vot­ers back from the Green party – who they have lost more vot­ers to in state elec­tions than the AfD,” said Man­fred Güll­ner, di­rec­tor of Forsa polling.

“It was a de­ci­sion by the party to con­tinue on a cen­trist course and that is the right one for the party,” he said.

The vic­tory for Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer came af­ter Ms Merkel used her vale­dic­tory speech to make a de­ci­sive in­ter­ven­tion against Mr Merz, plead­ing for the party to stay on the mid­dle path she has trod­den dur­ing her 18 years as leader.

Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer’s bat­tle against Mr Merz – a 63-year-old who used to be the party’s par­lia­men­tary leader be­fore be­ing pushed out by Ms Merkel in 2002 – was the CDU’s first com­pet­i­tive vote for a new head since 1971.

Ms Merkel chose not to pub­licly back any of the can­di­dates who had fought at na­tion­wide hus­tings. But her speech seemed to be an at­tempt to per­suade un­de­cided del­e­gates the right choice was the more mod­er­ate can­di­date.

The chan­cel­lor had stressed the party was at a key point in its his­tory, that it would re­quire “all of its strength” to over­come the chal­lenges it cur­rently faces, a ref­er­ence to a string of mis­er­able elec­tion re­sults in re­cent months.

She re­minded del­e­gates “we have fought against strong head­winds be­fore. I only need men­tion the elec­tion suc­cess in Saar­land last year when, de­spite the pre­dic­tions, we won over 40pc of the vote”.

Ms Kramp-Kar­ren­bauer was state leader in Saar­land in 2017, where she guided the CDU to an un­ex­pect­edly re­sound­ing vic­tory over the So­cial Demo­crat SPD just months be­fore the na­tional elec­tion. (© Daily Tele­graph, Lon­don)

‘Re­sult gives CDU chance to win back vot­ers from Greens’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.