Tuesday 21 May 2019

More of the same or an outsider - the wannabes eyeing up the top spot

Rising star: Jens Spahn has become a major critic of Angela Merkel. Photo: REUTERS/Joachim Herrmann
Rising star: Jens Spahn has become a major critic of Angela Merkel. Photo: REUTERS/Joachim Herrmann

Several CDU politicians have announced they want to succeed Angela Merkel as party leader. Here are some oft the candidates:

The Mini-Merkel

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (56) probably has the best chance of becoming the next CDU leader after Merkel named her as party secretary- general in February - a move seen as a succession plan.

Dubbed a 'mini-Merkel' by German media due to her rational approach to politics, Kramp-Karrenbauer was premier of the tiny state of Saarland on the French border from 2011 to 2018.

Her Catholic, western German background contrasts with Merkel's Protestant, eastern roots. While socially conservative and known for opposing gay marriage, Kramp-Karrenbauer is also a strong supporter of the minimum wage and workers' rights. She has said the CDU will need to regain some passion if it wants to attract younger voters.

The Critic

Health Minister Jens Spahn (38) is one of Merkel's most outspoken critics.

He positions himself as a politician from Germany's rural north-west who is sceptical of urban liberals and the globalist elite.

A member of the lower house of parliament since 2002, Spahn has been seen as a rising star for years. However, anti-immigration rhetoric during the refugee crisis cost him sympathy among Merkel allies.

Spahn is a Catholic like Kramp-Karrenbauer but, despite the Church's opposition to gay partnerships, is married to Daniel Funke, a senior journalist at the glossy magazine 'Bunte'.

The Outsider

Friedrich Merz (62), a member of the CDU's conservative wing, has coined the idea of a German 'Leitkultur', or 'lead culture', with which he called on Muslim immigrants to assimilate and adopt German values and traditions.

He is also known for his proposal to simplify the annual tax return so that it could be written on a beer mat.

Merz is among the many conservative men who have seen their political fortunes dwindle under Merkel.

Irish Independent

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