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Merkel’s party trembles: AKK departure sparks predictions of ‘CDU end’ & calls for German govt reshuffle

Merkel’s party trembles: AKK departure sparks predictions of ‘CDU end’ & calls for German govt reshuffle
The announcement of Angela Merkel's heir apparent, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, saying that she is resigning as her party's head and won't run for the post of chancellor, has stirred up a political storm in Germany.

Merkel reacted to the the announcement by saying “I greatly regret it.” She suggested that “this wasn’t an easy decision” for Kramp-Karrenbauer, and thanked her fellow party member for agreeing to stay in charge until a new chancellor candidate is selected.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, often shortened as AKK, on Monday said she is stepping down as the leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), clarifying she's also abandoning her bid to run for chancellor in the next election.

The shock announcement came after AKK appeared powerless to stop CDU delegates from siding with the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the eastern state of Thuringia, sending her party into domestic crisis.

The 57-year-old's partial departure — already dubbed the CDU "earthquake" — was met with mixed reaction in Berlin.

Also on rt.com Merkel's would-be successor Kramp-Karrenbauer won’t run for chancellor, steps down as CDU head amid ruling coalition mayhem

Wolfgang Schäuble, formerly Finance Minister and now Bundestag president, predicted that "the next candidate for chancellorship will not be a chancellor if we continue like this." The "central question" is how selection of AKK's successor goes on, the top-tier CDU member told the Bild tabloid.

The CDU's opponents on the left have been equally pessimistic. "We are witnessing the end of the second-largest nationwide party in Germany," former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel exclaimed, adding that "the federal government has been paralyzed for the second time within a short time."

Dietmar Bartsch, faction chief of the Left Party, went even further, claiming the coalition government made up of CDU, its Bavarian sister party CSU and the Social Democrats is about to collapse. "The grand coalition is finished," he argued, because Europe's largest economy "cannot afford a one-and-a-half year stalemate" until the next elections are held in 2021. "The CDU is currently unable to govern. Down with that government," Bartsch said.

AKK has acknowledged that the decision to quit "has matured and grown in me for quite some time." She assured, however, that she will remain at the helm until another CDU candidate for chancellor is selected.

The politician rose to prominence back in 2018, when she has handpicked by Merkel to lead the CDU as someone who would continue the current chancellor's centrist policy. But as Kramp-Karrenbauer acted in Merkel's shadow, she failed to build a distinctive profile, which led many to believe that she isn't the right figure to occupy the country's top job.

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