The CDU in Germany has Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in a dramatic election final to her new national chairman and successor of Angela Merkel. After an emotional speech, the Saarlander prevailed on Friday at the Federal Party Congress in Hamburg in a run-off election just against the former Union faction leader Friedrich Merz.
The winner and the losers unanimously called for unity after the vote. All three praised the „fair competition“ after 18 years with Merkel on the party leadership. „This upswing must continue,“ said Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The former CDU General Secretary Kramp-Karrenbauer received in the second round almost 52 percent of the vote. For Merz, a good 48 percent of the delegates decided. Spahn had come in the first ballot knocked down to just under 16 percent of the vote. Obviously, surprisingly many Supporters Spahns were in the last ballot to Kramp-Karrenbauer changed.
The previous Deputy Chairmen, Hesse’s Prime Minister Volker Bouffier, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet and Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of the Interior Thomas Strobl have been confirmed in office.
Merkel remains head of government. In her last speech as party leader, she said: „I do not need party chairmanship for my attachment to the party – and I’m still Chancellor.“ Merkel explained that the CDU could achieve good results even in times of polarization and AfD, „if we closed and determined to fight „. She emphasized: „Wherever unending strife leads us, the CDU and CSU have experienced bitterly in recent years.“ She also wishes her party „happiness in the heart“ for the future.
Kramp-Karrenbauer had stated in her application speech that the CDU must be a party that has the courage – instead of „anxiously looking to the right and to the left“. Merz demanded that this congress should be „a signal of departure and renewal.“ Addressing past mistakes, he said, „Without clear positions, we will not get better election results.“ Spahn said the party must „move forward courageously, hold debates, withstand headwinds.“ Germany should finally be able to rehabilitate bridges in good time and build functioning airports.
Bouffier attributed Kramp-Karrenbauer’s success to her speech to the delegates. „It certainly speaks very much for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer that she addressed the party very directly and also reached the heart of the party,“ he told the dpa.
Saxony Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer hopes after the change at the party leadership again on more agreement for the CDU in the East. „I trust the Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer that she can do just that,“ he told dpa. „That’s why we’re counting on her to tie in all the wings and get a real push in this party and in this country.“
Kramp-Karrenbauer was touched by the trust that the delegates voiced in her election results and thanked Spahn and Merz for the „fair competition“. Merz initially did not want to run for another post. The business lawyer from the Sauerland advised the delegates to elect Spahn to the presidium. It was the first time since 1971 that the CDU delegates could choose between several candidates in the election of their chair.
It was initially unclear with whom Kramp-Karrenbauer wants to work together as secretary-general. However, she announced that she would make her decision known at the two-day congress.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who will step down as CSU chief on 19 January, wrote on Twitter: „My congratulations on the election as the new chairman of the CDU. Good luck and success in the new office! Good cooperation with the CSU! „The chairman of the AfD parliamentary group, Alice Weidel, said Kramp-Karrenbauer was a new version of Merkel. With her, the „left course of the CDU will continue“. SPD leader Andrea Nahles told the new CDU chief via Twitter: „They follow in big footsteps“ and offered her „good cooperation“. „We look forward to an exciting political competition,“ said Green Party chairmen Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck.
Merkel was applauded after her speech by the 1001 delegates with almost ten minutes of applause. Many were holding up signs saying „Thank you, boss.“ The Chancellor was visibly close to tears. At the end of October, she had declared her withdrawal from the CDU leadership after criticism and election slaps in Bavaria and Hesse.
Merkel also used the party conference for a look back. She said that after the party donation affair under German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the CDU did not give in, but „we showed it all“. She stressed that the suspension of conscription in 2011 was correct and defended her decision in 2015 to accept refugees from the so-called Balkan route in Germany.
Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) congratulated Kramp-Karrenbauer on the election of the new CDU party leader – an „important function“. The previous party leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have „shaped the CDU decisively,“ said Kurz on the sidelines of his visit to Rwanda on Friday.
In the application for the party leadership all three candidates – in addition to Kramp-Karrenbauer ex-Union faction leader Friedrich Merz and Minister of Health Jens Spahn had a „fair competition“ and distinguished themselves by a „fair and respectful interaction with each other“.
The new General Secretary of the CDU is to be elected on Saturday at the party congress in Hamburg, as Kramp-Karrenbauer announced after her election. However, she did not name a name yet. Kramp-Karrenbauer has the right to propose as party leader. It should be formed a team that could promote a renewal of the CDU, said the new party leader. This concerns, for example, the questions, „how do we communicate, how do we work, how do we carry on the substantive work“.