German leader’s party elects her ally as chairwoman
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.
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.