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Merkel's party chooses a new leader and a new era in Germany



HAMBURG (Reuters) – Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats decide on Friday to decide who will replace them as party leader, and is in pole position to become her successor as German Chancellor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited on 6 December 2018 the party congress of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Hamburg (Germany). REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach

The front runners are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Protel of Merkel as a continuity The candidate and Friedrich Merz, a competitor of Merkel, who has questioned the constitutional guarantee of asylum for all "politically persecuted" and believes is that Germany, Europe's largest economy, should contribute more to the European Union.

Merkel said in October that she would resign as party leader, but remain Chancellor, as she wanted to cope after a series of setbacks since she decided in 201

5 to leave the German borders open for refugees who were facing a war fled in the Middle East.

The new CDU leader is elected by 1,001 delegates who vote at a congress in Hamburg. The winner is likely to lead the CDU at the next general election in October 2021.

A survey by the broadcaster Infratest dimap for ARD on Thursday revealed that 47 percent of CDU members favored Kramp-Karrenbauer, compared to 37 percent for Merz and 12 percent for Health Minister Jens Spahn.

63-year-old Merz, who lost to Merkel in 2002 in a power struggle and returns to politics after a decade, is supported by CDU members tired of Merkel's consensual policy. He received support this week from party veteran Wolfgang Schäuble.

Dangerous candidate

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, an ally of Merkel, said: "I am convinced that with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer we have the best chance that the CDU will win an election," she adds the most dangerous candidate to face the center-left Social Democrats and the Green ecologist.

Kramp-Karren Bauer's trump card is her record as former Prime Minister of Saarland, where she led a broad coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats for the economy, Alliance building skills, useful in Germany's fractured political landscape.

The 56-year-old Kramp-Karrenbauer distinguishes himself from Merkel in social and foreign affairs by adopting a harder stance for women's quota on corporate boards rejected by Merkel and for Russia.

She said to Reuters last week that Europe and the United States should consider blocking Russian ships because of the Ukraine crisis.

But to what the CDU is about to do, Kramp-Karrenbauer says, "I have no special recipe."

In contrast, Merz advocates clear positions calling for group members who feel a clearer hunger party defined after 13 years under Merkel as chancellor. He wants tax cuts, a stronger EU and a more robust approach to challenge right-wing extremists.

Merz will benefit from the fact that 296 delegates to the congress – almost a third – will come from his home country, the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia.

A high-ranking CDU official speaking on the condition of anonymity said many delegates were undecided prior to the congress and might be influenced by the way the candidates present themselves on Friday. "It could be the speeches of the day," he said.

Edited by Janet Lawrence

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