DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – The race to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of Germany’s ruling conservatives, and take pole position to succeed her as chancellor, is going down to the wire.
Two frontrunners have emerged with opposing visions for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since Merkel said last month she would step down as party chief following a regional election setback.
Annegret - Kramp-Karrenbauer - Merkel - Protege - Candidate
One is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel protege seen as the candidate of continuity. The other is Friedrich Merz, a long-time Merkel rival who promises more radical change.
The outcome of the vote for a new leader at a party congress on Dec. 7-8 is crucial not only for the CDU, which governs in a three-party coalition, but also for the future of the European Union’s dominant country and biggest economy. Merkel remains chancellor but whoever takes over the CDU is likely to be its candidate in the next federal election, due by October 2021.
Kramp-Karrenbauer - Leader - State - Saarland - Years
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was leader of the state of Saarland for nearly seven years, leads in polls of party supporters. But Merz, who is returning to politics after a decade in business, is a close second and is backed by CDU members who want an end to Merkel’s consensual politics and love of compromise.
In the sixth of eight debates before the CDU congress in Hamburg, it was Merz who captured the 4,000-strong audience this week in the western city of Duesseldorf, capital of his home state, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Slide - Opinion - Polls - CDU - Crowd
Lamenting a slide in opinion polls for the CDU, he wooed the crowd by pledging: “We must resist this trend, we must stop it and we must reverse it.”
In a dig at Merkel’s style of politics, he said: “We haven’t taken clear positions.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer - Disadvantage - Merz - Home - Turf
Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, was at a disadvantage on Merz’s home turf and received only polite applause. But she has been scoring points...
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