As Merkel's 'successor' resigns, what next for Germany?

Angela Merkel's would-be successor in Germany is resigning instead

Germany's Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer will meet contenders to replace her as Christian Democrat (CDU) leader next week, she told Reuters, forging ahead with the succession process after senior party figures pressed for a swift decision.

AKK, as she is widely known, had been the favourite to succeed Merkel since she was elected party chair in 2018 but her leadership of the CDU has been plagued by gaffes and party divisions.

Kramp-Karrenbauer decision not to seek the chancellorship in next year's general election upends Merkel's plans to hand her the reins after more than 15 years in power.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said she would remain Germany's minister of defense at the "request" of Merkel.

Asked as he left a news conference if he was trying to avoid being asked about the chancellorship, he replied tersely: "I'm not afraid of anything". She remains in her post as defence minister. Amid periods of economic turbulence, Merkel has also managed to keep Germany's economy afloat, making it one of the strongest economies in Europe.

He expressed hope that the CDU/CSU union, which is in turmoil following a political crisis in Thuringia and the upcoming resignation of its current leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, will resolve its problems.

Though appointed as party chief, Kramp-Karrenbauer was never officially recognized by the party as its chancellor candidate in the 2021 elections.

Provincial health officer set to give coronavirus update
After being diagnosed he was transferred to St Thomas' Hospital in London , where he is being kept in an infectious disease unit. Britons who have been flown back from Wuhan are now being held at Arrowe Park Hospital and Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes .

However, SPD may find it impossible to work with at least two of the potential conservative candidates who are further to the right of the CDU than Merkel. She would organise a process to fill both roles in the summer. Thuringia's gubernatorial election had symbolic significance because it was there that Hitler's Nazis first came to power with the help of right-wing conservative parties before taking over the entire country and plunging it into the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II.

Alexander Gauland, honorary chairman of the far-right AfD, said Kramp-Karrenbauer had failed to implement the CDU's policy of ostracising the AfD and added that such an approach was unrealistic in the long-term.

With Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer out of the picture it means Mrs Merkel's long time foes, Mr Spahn and Mr Merz can throw their hat in the ring. He has battled back from the political wilderness and ran Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer to a close second. Socially conservative and pro-business, Merz appeals to the CDU's core and earlier this month quit asset manager BlackRock to refocus on politics.

AfD has established itself as a powerful far-right force since it was founded in 2013 but most of its rivals have ruled out working with the party in a coalition government.

When Merkel accepted 1 million mostly-Syrian refugees in 2015, however, the AfD shifted its focus, adopting an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam platform.

Merkel moved fairly late to cultivate a successor, and when she did, she chose someone who had yet to be proven on a national stage.

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