AKK new elected leader of German Christian Democratic Union

“The hardest births produce the most beautiful children,” quipped Annegret Kramp-
Karrenbauer in 2011, after a tricky parliamentary process had elevated her to the top job in the Saarland, a small state in south-west Germany. If this saying is true AKK, as she is universally known, is sitting pretty.

On December 7th, at a party congress in Hamburg, she was elected leader of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) by the slimmest of margins.

The other contender for the post was Friedrich Merz, a former CDU parliamentary leader, and some of his fans vowed to quit the party.

AKK is only the fourth person to lead the CDU in 45 years. For the time being she will be working alongside her ally, Angela Merkel who has taken the unusual decision to yield the party leadership while remaining chancellor—perhaps until her term expires in 2021. In February Mrs Merkel plucked Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer from the Saarland to appoint her CDU secretary-general, a clear sign that a successor was being groomed. About time, muttered some; Mrs Merkel had run the country since 2005 and the party for five years more.

Two tests lie ahead. The first is at the ballot box. If the CDU does well in European and state elections in 2019, Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer will be primed to become its candidate to take over from Mrs Merkel, who will quit no later than the next general election. Secondly, she must start to craft distinctive policies on matters that the next government cannot avoid, such as tax, pensions, energy and defence. She needs to deepen her ties in European political networks beyond France. Also, there is the internal CDU war.

Good luck AKK!

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