Chancellor Angela Merkel's protege, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, addresses a news conference to promote her candidacy to succeed the German leader as chief of their conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) in Berlin, Germany.
Berlin: Pitching to succeed Angela Merkel as Christian Democrat (CDU) leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Wednesday promised a new chapter for Germany in which “people feel at home” here after a period of political turmoil marked by the rise of the far-right.
Should she secure the CDU leadership, Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, would be in pole position to succeed Merkel as chancellor.
But polls show she lags businessman Friedrich Merz, 62, in the race. Merkel said last week she would vacate the CDU leadership at a party congress in December, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.
As heir to Merkel’s centrist cause, Kramp-Karrenbauer could probably cohabit as party leader with Merkel as chancellor, which she wants to remain until the end of the parliamentary term in 2021.
Her challenge is to define her own profile distinct from Merkel, while remaining loyal to the chancellor.
“This is the end of the era,” Kramp-Karrenbauer, who German media have dubbed “AKK” after her initials, told reporters in Berlin. “We have to thank Angela Merkel for a great deal.”
“My experience is ... that one always stands on the shoulders of one’s predecessor,” she added, stressing the need for political stability in uncertain times.
“We need to work out a way for people here to feel at home - people who have lived here a long time and people who have arrived more recently,” she added, with reference to the upheaval caused by Germany’s migrant crisis in 2015.
It could prove harder for Merkel to remain chancellor with Merz as CDU leader, as he lost out to her in a power struggle in 2002 and has since pursued a successful career as a businessman.