Saturday, 24 August 2019

Merkel taking risk by giving up CDU party chair, protege says

BERLIN: Angela Merkel’s decision to give up the leadership of her Christian Democrats while staying on as German chancellor is a risk and an experiment, her protege and would-be successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Wednesday.

The conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) decides at a conference next month who will succeed Merkel as party leader, and whoever wins will be in pole position to become chancellor of Europe’s economic powerhouse.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party’s centrist general secretary, is one of two leading candidates. She is so widely seen as the continuity option that she is dubbed “mini-Merkel”.

Merkel had said the party leadership and chancellorship should be held by the same person, until her decision last month to separate the two posts.

“It is a risk, it is an experiment,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told a business conference hosted by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “Whether it succeeds, the coming months will show.”

Merkel’s awkward coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) has come close to collapsing twice and further infighting in her conservative bloc could prompt the center-left partner to pull out.

The chancellor’s decision to give up the party leadership highlights her waning authority, dented by two regional election setbacks this year and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives’ parliamentary group.

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