HAMBURG (Reuters) – Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats vote on Friday to decide who replaces her as a party leader and…
HAMBURG (Reuters) – Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats vote on Friday to decide who replaces her as a party leader and move into pole position to succeed her as German Chancellor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Congress in Hamburg, Germany, December 6, 201
8. REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach
The front lane is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel prosthesis as a continuity candidate and Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who has questioned the constitutional guarantee of asylum to all “politically persecuted” and believes that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, should contribute more to the European Union.
Merkel said in October that she would go down as a party leader but remain chancellor, an attempt to cope with a series of adversities since her divisive decision in 2015 to keep German borders open to refugees flying the war in the Middle East.
The new CDU leader will be elected by 1 001 delegates who vote for a party congress in Hamburg. The winner is likely to lead the CDU in the next federal elections in October 2021.
A survey survey Infratest dimap for broadcasters ARD on Thursday showed 47 percent of CDU members favored Kramp-Karrenbauer, compared with 37 percent for Merz and 12 percent for health minister Jens Spahn .
Merz, 63, who lost to Merkel in a 2002 power struggle and returns to politics after a decade on business, supported by the CDU members tired of Merkel’s consensus policy. He won support this week from party veteran Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Economist Peter Altmaier, a Merkel ally, said: “I am convinced that with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer we have the best chance that CDU will win a choice” and added that she would be the most dangerous candidate to meet the central social democrats and the ecologist green.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s trump card is her record as former prime minister in Saarland, where she led a wide coalition with green and pro-business free democrats, alliance building skills useful in Germany’s broken political landscape.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, has distinguished himself from Merkel on social and foreign policy by voting for quotas for women on corporate boards, against Merkel, and by making a harder line against Russia.
She told Reuters last week Europe and the United States should consider blocking Russian ships over the Ukrainian crisis.
But on what is going on for CDU, Kramp-Karrenbauer says: “I have no special recipe.”
Merz, on the other hand, takes clear positions as appeals to members of the rank and file party who are hungry for a more clearly defined party after 13 years under Merkel as Chancellor. He wants tax cuts, a stronger EU and a more robust approach to challenge the right-hand right.
Merz will benefit from the fact that 296 delegates at Congress – almost one third – come from his native country, North Rhine Westphalia West.
A senior CDU official, who spoke on terms of anonymity, said that many delegates were undefined before the congress and could be hovered by how the candidates presented themselves on Friday. “It could come down to the speech of the day,” he said.
Editing Janet Lawrence
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