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New leader chosen to replace Germany's Angela Merkel

New leader chosen to replace Germany's Angela Merkel

Major German parties have tended to determine their leaders without a contest, and this is the first open competition for the CDU leadership since 1971. She defeated Friedrich Merz in the second round of voting after Health Minister Jens Spahn was eliminated.

The third candidate was a critic of Merkel.

Today's vote has been closely watched, as whoever leads the CDU is likely to become the next chancellor of Europe's biggest economy.

During the leadership campaign, Merz delighted rank-and-file CDU members hungry for a more clearly defined party after 13 years of consensus-type leadership under Merkel by calling for tax cuts and a more robust approach to tackling the far right.

Married to a mining engineer with whom she has three children, Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely known as KKK, faced the challenge during the leadership battle of both wanting to appear to support Merkel and signalling that she would take the party in a new direction.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing her exit as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

A senior CDU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said many delegates were undecided before the congress and could be swayed by how the candidates present themselves on Friday.

Most controversially, she allowed large numbers of asylum-seekers into Germany in 2015. The victor will likely lead the CDU in the next federal election due by October 2021.

She also celebrated Germany's balancing its budget in recent years and its response to the eurozone debt crisis.

Months before the national election where the CDU slumped to its worst result since 1949 winning just 32.9 per cent of the national vote, she managed to secure over 40 percent of the vote in Saarland, marking her out as a victor in a field of losers.




While Merkel remains popular, AKK inherits a diminished party which is now polling at roughly 30 percent, far below the about 40 percent enjoyed during Merkel's heyday.

Meanwhile Germany's oldest party, the Social Democrats (SPD) - junior partners in Merkel's "grand coalition" - are mired in an even deeper crisis.

"We are in demanding times today, no doubt about that", she said.

"We are facing a turning point and need a breakthrough for the next years".

"Whether it's the rejection of multilateralism, the return to nationalism, the reduction of global cooperation to deal-making or threatened trade wars. hybrid warfare, destablisation of societies with fake news or the future of our European Union - we Christian Democrats must show in the face of all these challenges what we've got", she said.

One of the most recent examples of Merz wanting a change of course for the CDU has been his outspoken criticism of the United Nations migration pact, which was revealed to have been largely drafted by the Merkel government starting in 2016.

"And I'm still chancellor", she said.

National broadsheet Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Schaeuble's move signalled that the CDU's long-festering divisions, thinly veiled by unity behind Merkel, could well break out in the open after the conference.

She was given a 10-minute standing ovation with cries of "Danke Angie" to acknowledge her 18 years in the job.