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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected Merkel’s successor as Christian Democrat leader

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected Merkel’s successor as Christian Democrat leader

An ally of Angela Merkel has been elected as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats, beating her closest rival in the second round of a party vote. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer beat millionaire businessman Friedrich Merz in the second round. Health minister Jens Spahn was knocked out in the first round. Kramp-Karrenbauer does not automatically become chancellor but…

An ally of Angela Merkel has been elected as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats, beating her closest rival in the second round of a party vote.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer beat millionaire businessman Friedrich Merz in the second round. Health minister Jens Spahn was knocked out in the first round.

Kramp-Karrenbauer does not automatically become chancellor but is tipped to eventually take the office when Merkel either stands down or is forced out, assuming her role as the most powerful politician in Europe.

Merkel has expressed her determination to stay on as chancellor for the remaining three years of her term in office. Fifty-six per cent of Germans support her decision to do so.

Her reason not to stand for re-election as head of the party is seen as strategic, allowing the party – which she joined at the age of 35 following the collapse of the Berlin Wall – to recalibrate and prepare for the next election.

Merkel received rapturous applause from the CDU earlier on Friday, after delivering an emotional speech marking the end of 18 years as party leader.

She fought back tears as CDU delegates gave her a 10-minute standing ovation accompanied by cheers and cries of “Danke Angie”.

The vote for Merkel’s successor followed a nail-biting contest and the first open CDU leadership race in almost 50 years.

Kramp-Karrenbauer faced the challenge during the leadership battle of both wanting to appear to support Merkel and signalling that she would take the party in a new direction. What she has said about the Merkel era became something of a slogan for her candidacy: “One cannot arbitrarily continue in the same vein, neither can one dismiss it.”

While she generally supported Merkel’s open-door policy towards migrants, she has admitted that grave mistakes have been made, and has pushed for a ban on refugees with criminal convictions.

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