Merkel to pass torch to a new party leader

About 1,000 delegates will choose the new chief of CDU
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hand over leadership of her party on Friday after nearly two decades at the helm, with the race wide open between a loyal deputy and a longtime rival. The contest’s outcome is expected to be crucial in deciding whether Ms. Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, can realise her stated goal of completing her fourth term in 2021 and before leaving politics. Ms. Merkel, 64, is quitting the helm of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after a series of poll setbacks rooted in controversy over her liberal refugee policy. “I’m very grateful that I could be party chairwoman for 18 years — it is a very, very long time and the CDU, of course, had its ups and downs,” Ms. Merkel said as she arrived at the conference venue in Hamburg. “But we won four national elections together… and I am happy I can remain Chancellor.”
At the helm since 2005
Ms. Merkel has led Germany since 2005, and moved the party and country steadily toward the political centre. More generous family leave, an exit from nuclear power and an end to military conscription were among her signature policies. The two main candidates, CDU deputy leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (known as AKK) and corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz, are locked in a battle over whether to embrace or break with the veteran Chancellor’s legacy. A third contender, Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an outspoken critic of Ms. Merkel’s 2015 decision to welcome more than one million asylum seekers to Germany, is seen as being in a distant third place. While AKK, 56, is viewed as a keeper of the flame and similar to Ms. Merkel with an even temper and middle-of-the-road policies, Mr. Merz, 63, has become the torchbearer for those seeking a more decisive break with the Chancellor. Few observers have dared to predict how the 1,000 delegates — political and party office holders — will vote.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/merkel-to-pass-torch-to-a-new-party-leader/article25694576.ece

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