Ger­man leader’s party elects her ally as chair­woman

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Geir Moul­son and Kerstin Sopke The As­so­ci­ated Press

HAM­BURG, Ger­many — An­gela Merkel’s cen­ter-right party elected an ally of the long­time Ger­man chan­cel­lor as its new leader on Fri­day, opt­ing for con­ti­nu­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence as it handed her the chal­lenge of open­ing a new chap­ter and im­prov­ing the party’s elec­toral for­tunes.

An­negret Kramp-kar­ren­bauer,

56, nar­rowly de­feated one-time Merkel ri­val Friedrich Merz to be­come the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union’s chair­woman.

The vote came hours after the party feted Merkel with a lengthy stand­ing ova­tion for her 18 years at the helm.

Merkel has said she plans to re­main chan­cel­lor un­til Ger­many’s next elec­tion, which is due in 2021 but could come ear­lier. Kramp-kar­ren­bauer, the CDU gen­eral sec­re­tary since Fe­bru­ary and pre­vi­ously a state gov­er­nor, is now the fa­vorite to run for chan­cel­lor in that vote.

That isn’t au­to­matic, but all but two of Kramp-kar­ren­bauer’s seven pre­de­ces­sors as CDU leader be­came chan­cel­lor.

She was quick to call for party unity after de­feat­ing Merz 517-482 on Fri­day, say­ing “there is a place in this party” for Merz and Health Min­is­ter Jens Spahn, who was elim­i­nated in a first round of vot­ing.

Merz stood for a more con­ser­va­tive, busi­ness-friendly ap­proach than Merkel, while Kramp-kar­ren­bauer — of­ten known as “AKK” — was closer to Merkel’s cen­trist stance.

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