Merkel 2.0? Chancellor’s ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected to lead Germany’s CDU party

Merkel 2.0? Chancellor’s ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer elected to lead Germany’s CDU party
Often referred to as Angela Merkel’s “protege” and even “Mini Merkel,” CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been chosen as the conservative German party’s next leader.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK, beat out her main rival, corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz, a staunch critic of Merkel whose win would have represented a decisive break from the current chancellor’s legacy and policies. The vote saw AKK win 517 of the 999 votes, while Merz took 482.

AKK has been referred to as a loyal follower of the current chancellor, but insists she’s not a “Mini Merkel,” telling German newspaper Welt last week: “I owe much to Angela Merkel, and many things connect us. However, we have different views on a number of points.” She went on to accuse Merkel of not having a consistent plan of action regarding migration policy.

Kramp-Karrenbauer is now expected to face an uphill battle as CDU leader. The party has recently experienced a significant drop in support, drawing roughly 30 percent at the polls, compared to the 40 percent it saw during Merkel’s heyday.

Merkel – who surprised her party and country in late October when she announced she would not be seeking re-election as CDU leader – on Friday delivered her farewell speech, receiving almost 10 minutes of standing applause.

READ MORE: Merkel will not seek new term as chancellor & CDU chair as party faces support slump

AKK was recently quick to place blame on Russia when commenting on the standoff between Ukrainian and Russian military ships in the Kerch Strait. She suggested that Europe and the US should stop Russian ships, coming from the Sea of Azov, from entering their ports, “if it’s confirmed that the aggression came from Russia.” That comment came despite footage showing detained Ukrainian sailors and agents admitting that their crews intentionally violated Russia’s maritime borders and ignored orders to stop traveling through the waters.

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On the topic of migrants, with Merkel’s open-door policy largely contributing to a loss in support for her party, AKK told reporters at a recent press conference in Berlin that migration “is not issue No.1, but it’s there as an issue, and there’s no point not talking about it.”

Referring to the 2015 migrant crisis in November, she said: “What happened in 2015 is a reality and a fact that can’t be reversed,” while noting that people want answers to problems including how to send back refugees who have turned to crime.

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