Who will sit at the CDU's helmEuropost
Several well known figures among the conservatives party lines have immediately expressed interest and willingness to succeed Angela Merkel as CDU's leader. According to analysts, the race at the party's December conference will be a very tight one. Here come those who are currently considered as having reasonable chances to head the conservatives.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known as AKK, so far has the best chance of becoming the next CDU leader after Merkel herself named her in February as party's secretary general. The move was seen as a succession plan. Dubbed a “mini-Merkel” by German media due to her rational approach to politics, she was Saarland PM from 2011 to 2018. While socially conservative, Kramp-Karrenbauer is also a strong supporter of the minimum wage and workers' rights. In an attempt to distance herself from Merkel's leadership style, she has recently said the CDU will need to add some passion in politics if it wants to attract younger voters and regain lost positions..
Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the CDU/CSU grouping in the Bundestag, has been out of frontline politics since leaving the Bundestag in 2009. But the 62-year-old announced his intention to replace Merkel within hours of the news that she would be stepping down. “After careful consideration and many discussions, I have decided to put forward my candidacy for the leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union at the federal party conference in Hamburg,” he said in a statement. Merz has been a chairman at Blackrock since 2016.
Jens Spahn has become one of Merkel's most outspoken critics within the CDU since her decision in 2015 to welcome more than a million migrants. In an attempt to rein him in, Merkel named him health minister, a thorny portfolio that brings a lot of work and few headlines. A member of the lower house of parliament since 2002, Spahn has been praised as a rising star for years by senior conservatives such as Wolfgang Schaeuble. However, his anti-immigration rhetoric at the height of the refugee crisis cost him sympathy among Merkel's allies.
Armin Laschet became state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2017. His win marked a major defeat for Social Democrats in Germany's 18 million-strong “coal” state. Catholic and former journalist, Lashet has been branded by his critics as “too nice for politics.” He is also one of the five deputies in the national CDU executive.
Julia Kloeckner became agriculture minister in 2018 and has been CDU chief in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate since 2011. In 1995, before entering politics, she became Germany's “Wine Queen.” Like Spahn, she belongs to the CDU's conservative wing. Kloeckner raised eyebrows in 2016 when she proposed an alternative plan to Merkel's refugee policy.
Peter Altmeier, known as “Merkel's bodyguard”, has supported the chancellor's centrist policy platform on multiple fronts. Originally from Saarland, Altmaier first worked for the European Union before entering the Bundestag in 1994. The former environment minister turned economy minister is renowned for his kitchen diplomacy and being a stickler for policy detail.