Merkel's party votes for new leader

Merkel's party votes for new leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats vote today to decide who replaces her as party leader and moves into pole position to succeed her as German chancellor.

The frontrunners are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel protege seen as the continuity candidate, and Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who has questioned the constitutional guarantee of asylum to all “politically persecuted” and believes Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, should contribute more to the European Union.

The new CDU leader will be chosen by 1001 delegates who vote at a party congress in Hamburg. The winner will likely lead the CDU in the next federal election due by October 2021.

Merz, 63, is backed by CDU members tired of Merkel’s consensual politics. He takes clear positions that appeal to rank-and-file party members hungry for a more clearly defined party after 13 years under Merkel as chancellor. Merz wants tax cuts, a stronger EU and a more robust approach to challenging the far-right.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, has differentiated herself from Merkel on social and foreign policy by voting in favor of quotas for women on corporate boards, opposed by Merkel, and by taking a tougher line on Russia.

A survey by pollster Infratest dimap for broadcaster ARD on Thursday showed 47% of CDU members favored Kramp-Karrenbauer compared with 37% for Merz and 12% for Health Minister Jens Spahn, Reuters reported.

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