Germany's Christian Democratic Union Chooses Merkel's Successor

German Chancellor Merkel set to give up party chair refugee policy viewed by some as sore spot

Major German parties have tended to determine their leaders without a contest, and this is the first open competition for the CDU leadership since 1971.

"But we won four national elections together ... and I am happy I can remain chancellor". Federal health minister Jens Spahn came in third. Merkel is due to address the meeting at around 11 a.m. and the vote on her successor as party chief will take place from 3 p.m.

"Since Wolfgang Schaeuble has now opened the floodgates, I can say that I am convinced that Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has the best chance to unite the CDU and win elections", Altmaier told regional newspaper Rheinische Post.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, December 7, offered a staunch defense of her moderate course during 18 years as party leader, as her Christian Democratic Union chose between a loyal deputy and a longtime rival to succeed her.

Kramp-Karrenbauer - a Merkel protege - defeated Friedrich Merz, a Merkel rival who has questioned the constitutional guarantee of asylum to all "politically persecuted" in the second round with 517 votes against 482.

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A senior CDU official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said many delegates were undecided before the congress and could be swayed by how the candidates present themselves on Friday. But she has warned that endlessly rehashing debates about Merkel's decision to allow in large numbers of migrants in 2015 is a turn-off for voters.

While AKK, 56, is viewed as a keeper of the flame and similar to Merkel with an even temper and middle-of-the-road policies, Merz, 63, has become the torchbearer for those seeking a more decisive break with the chancellor.

She also celebrated Germany's balancing its budget in recent years and its response to the eurozone debt crisis.

Polling at around 30% - down from the 41.5% with which they won the 2013 vote - the party have lost votes to both the far-right Alternative for Germany and the liberal Green Party.

"We are in demanding times today, no doubt about that", she said.

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Merkel, however, recalled that the CDU was in a deep crisis when she took over in 2000, mired in a party financing scandal surrounding ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl. "But. we faced an hour of destiny for the Christian Democratic Union 18 years ago".

Outlining the multiple challenges facing Germany, from rapidly changing technology to climate change and a global shift away from multilateralism to defending national interests, she said: "In times like these, we will defend our liberal views, our way of life, both at home and overseas".

One of the most recent examples of Merz wanting a change of course for the CDU has been his outspoken criticism of the United Nations migration pact, which was revealed to have been largely drafted by the Merkel government starting in 2016.

"I wasn't born as chancellor or as party leader", she added. "I have always wanted to do my government and party jobs with dignity, and one day to leave them with dignity".

"Angela Merkel is one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time", Harvard President Larry Bacow told The Harvard Gazette. She was greeted by a several-minute standing ovation, with some delegates holding up 'Thank you, boss!' placards.

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