Merkel ally Kramp-Karrenbauer elected new CDU leader

Periscope  Cdu Deutschlands

Periscope Cdu Deutschlands

Angela Merkel loyalist Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been elected as the new leader of the German chancellor's party.

As the party's general secretary, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer was favourite to take over when Mrs Merkel announced her retirement in October.

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel holds a frame with a baton she was given by Volker Bouffier (right) and Klaus Schueler (left) representing CDU members during a party congress of Germany's conservative CDU party on December 7 at a fair hall in Hamburg, northern Germany.

She hinted that she was backing Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed her, praising her electoral performance as chief minister of Saarland.

(AAP) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer reacts as she is elected the new leader of Germany's CDU party.

Current German Chancellor Mrs Merkel looked close to tears as she delivered her farewell speech to delegates in the room.

She stressed that the CDU stood for human dignity, and praised the late US President George Bush Senior and late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for reuniting Germany in 1990.

AKK - as she is widely known - grew up in a Catholic family in Saarland in south-western Germany, the country's smallest state. "The future will test our values we must always approach work joyfully", she said.

"Whether it's the rejection of multilateralism, the return to nationalism, the reduction of worldwide cooperation to deal-making or threatened trade wars... hybrid warfare, destabilization of societies with fake news or the future of our European Union - we Christian Democrats must show in the face of all these challenges what we've got", she said.

In a farewell speech as leader, Merkel said Friday that "our CDU today is different from the year 2000, and that is a good thing". Whoever wins will be favorite to run for chancellor in the next election, though that isn't automatic. She already lost her firm control over CDU lawmakers in September, when her parliamentary group staged a coup, unseating her caucus chairman in favor of a more independent rival.

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A third contender, Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an outspoken critic of Merkel's 2015 decision to welcome more than one million asylum seekers to Germany, is running a distant third.

Bloomberg's Matt Miller reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe".

"The Merkel era is palpably coming to an end", political journalist and AKK biographer Kristina Dunz said.

AKK beat corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz, 63, who had quit politics in 2009 after losing a power struggle against Merkel and long nursed a grudge against the more centrist chancellor.

"The CDU of the Merkel years is falling apart", it said.

'Now it is time to open a new chapter, ' Merkel said.

The contest is wide open as 1,001 party delegates convene for the two-day party conference.

AKK is believed to have Merkel's strong backing but much will depend on how deep and widespread the longing is for a stronger conservative profile. He won support this week from party veteran Wolfgang Schaeuble.

At present, the center-right bloc is polling around or below 30 percent.

Regardless of which course the CDU charts, it is ironically the SPD that could decide Merkel's fate.

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