Angela Merkel replacement REVEALED: ‘Mini-Merkel’ Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wins CDU vote

Jens Spahn Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer and Friedrich Merz

Chancellor Angela Merkel will be replaced by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. 1001 delegates are electing a successor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who doesn't run again for party chairmanship after more than 18 years at the helm of the party.

Merz, 63, took clear positions that appealed to rank-and-file party members hungry for a more clearly defined party after 13 years under Merkel as chancellor.

The choice was made by 999 voting delegates at a party congress in German city of Hamburg on Friday, the day Merkel was seen off with a nine-minute standing ovation after 18 years as the party chief.

Merkel has led Germany since 2005, and moved the party and country steadily toward the political centre.

The party has suffered a significant drop in support even at a national level according to polls, going from the 40 percent gathered during Mrs Merkel's most successful days to a mere 30 percent.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer has said she wants to improve on Ms Merkel's legacy and has suggested she would encourage debate within her party on issues such as immigration to encourage new proposals that could become government policy.

After being nominated by Chancellor Merkel, AKK was elected as CDU general secretary with a record 98.9% of the vote.

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

Outlining the multiple challenges facing Germany, from rapidly changing technology to climate change and a global shift away from multilateralism to defending national interests, she said: "In times like these, we will defend our liberal views, our way of life, both at home and overseas".

They were said to be reasonably close, and the lack of communication between the two raised eyebrows at the time. More generous family leave, an exit from nuclear power and an end to military conscription were among her signature policies.

But she clinched only a narrow victory over Friedrich Merz, a long-time Merkel rival, in a run-off vote in Hamburg, with 51.8% of the vote.

This week Merz, who has insisted in the face of widespread scepticism, that he could work well with Merkel, won the backing of powerful former finance minister and the current parliamentary speaker Wolfgang Schaeuble. Daniel Kirch, political correspondent at Saarbrücker Zeitung said.

AKK is believed to have Merkel's strong backing but much will depend on how deep and widespread the longing is for a more conservative profile.

Whoever wins will face towering challenges for the party, which is now drawing around 28 percent at the polls, far below the around 40 percent enjoyed during Merkel's heyday.

Armin Laschet, premier of Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, said the CDU needed to begin projecting an image of unity ahead of European elections next May.

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