Merkel protégée takes up defence role in bid to boost leadership hopes
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's protégée, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, took over as the country's defence minister in a move likely to make or break her chances of succeeding her mentor as leader by 2021.
Ursula von der Leyen's promotion to European Commission president vacated the defence post and Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, keen to build her chancellorship credentials, grabbed it.
The decision had Ms Merkel's blessing. The chancellor, who turned 65 yesterday, aims to stage-manage her gradual exit from politics and hand over power to Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, who replaced her as chair of their Christian Democrats (CDU) in December.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer's political fortunes have waned after a series of gaffes this year.
But the move risks backfiring as she inherits a demoralised and under-equipped armed forces plagued by scandal and right-wing extremism.