Angela Merkel loyalist Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeds chancellor as CDU leader

Angela Merkel loyalist Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeds chancellor as CDU leader

Chancellor Angela Merkel will be replaced by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel waves after her speech at the party convention of the Christian Democratic Party CDU in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. The CDU is set to choose between Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Friedrich Merz.

The third candidate was a critic of Merkel.

Bloomberg's Matt Miller reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe".

She also made a reference to her nickname, "mini Merkel", saying, "People consider me a 'mini, ' a copy, a simple 'more of the same, ' but I can tell you that I stand here as my own person, just as life has shaped me and of that I am proud".

A former state premier in Saarland, where she led a three-way coalition, Kramp-Karrenbauer has a reputation for uniting support across the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a talent for striking alliances with other parties.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has an 18-year unbroken track record of holding positions of responsibility within the CDU.

Merkel, 64, told the CDU congress in Hamburg of her gratitude for the chance to have served as party chief for 18 years, 13 as chancellor in which she came to dominate European politics as its key crisis manager and consensus-builder.

Ms Merkel's speech was punctuated by applause and she got a standing ovation of more than six minutes at the end. She moved her party relentlessly to the centre, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children and allowing the introduction of gay marriage. Whoever wins will be favorite to run for chancellor in the next election, though that isn't automatic.

Merkel congratulates her protege at the 31st Party Congress of the CDU
Merkel congratulates her protege at the 31st Party Congress of the CDU Credit Andalou Agency

Both men are seen as harbouring longstanding grudges against the chancellor, after she thwarted Schaeuble's ambition to become German president and Merz's desire to remain CDU parliamentary group leader several years ago.

While she has called for tougher policies on refugees who commit crimes, AKK firmly backed Merkel's fateful 2015 decision to welcome more than one million asylum-seekers from crisis zones such as Syria and Iraq.

But on what lies ahead for the CDU, Kramp-Karrenbauer said: "I have no particular recipe".

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.

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

Outlining the multiple challenges facing Germany, from rapidly changing technology to climate change and a global shift away from multilateralism to defending national interests, she said: "In times like these, we will defend our liberal views, our way of life, both at home and overseas".

'I wasn't born as chancellor or as party leader, ' she said. "I have always wanted to do my government and party jobs with dignity, and one day to leave them with dignity".

"It has been a great pleasure for me, it has been an honour", she said to a standing ovation lasting almost 10 minutes, and fighting to hold back tears.

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