Merkel's party chooses successor to longtime German leader

Christian Democratic Union CDU chairwoman and German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives the applause after her speech during a party convention of the Christian Democratic Party CDU in Hamburg Germany

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. 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. The CDU is set to choose between Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Friedrich Merz. "The future will test our values we must always approach work joyfully", she said.

Current Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, like Merz, has been a fierce critic of Chancellor Merkel's asylum policy and is also known for his social conservatism despite being openly gay. Whoever wins will be favourite to run for chancellor in the next election, though that isn't automatic.

During her campaign to succeed Merkel as party leader, she repeatedly noted that she was able to blunt an onslaught by the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as it picked up seats in state after state.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given an emotional farewell speech to her ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), as she steps down as party leader. While she has often been dubbed "mini Merkel" for her steady, pragmatic style, she subtly distanced herself from the chancellor in the run-up to today's high-stakes vote. But she has warned that endlessly rehashing debates about Merkel's decision to allow in large numbers of migrants in 2015 is a turn-off for voters.

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.

A party led by Merz "would be the best thing for the country", Schaeuble, one of only two postwar CDU leaders not to become chancellor, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday.

At present, the center-right bloc is polling around or below 30 percent.

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Merkel, however, recalled that the CDU was in a deep crisis when she took over in 2000, mired in a party financing scandal surrounding ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

She went on to say: "We need to discuss and decide what conservative, Christian-social and liberal look like today and we need to have a clearer profile". "But. we faced an hour of destiny for the Christian Democratic Union 18 years ago".

"Whether it's the rejection of multilateralism, the return to nationalism, the reduction of worldwide 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.

Merkel appealed to the party to show unity, noting that arguments in recent years over migration have showed "where endless arguments lead".

"And I'm still chancellor", she said. She was greeted by a several-minute standing ovation, with some delegates holding up 'Thank you, boss!' placards.

"Angela Merkel is one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time", Harvard President Larry Bacow told The Harvard Gazette.

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