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The German conservative party will appoint its new president and potential successor to Angela Merkel in late April. After several electoral setbacks, the CDU intends to accelerate the movement for the presidential election of 2021.

Faced with a deep identity crisis, the German conservative party is preparing to appoint its new leader. After a week of consultations, the resigning leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as “AKK”, announced Monday the holding on April 25 of an extraordinary congress responsible for appointing a successor.

And for the first time, she cited by naming the four probable contenders who should submit to the vote of party delegates.

These are on the one hand moderates Armin Laschet and Norbert Rottgen and on the other hand, Friedrich Merz, who should formalize his candidacy Tuesday, and Jens Spahn. The last two are in favor of a clear break with the centrist course of the

“Clear signal”

The current president of the CDU, who had to withdraw from the race for the chancellery for lack of sufficient authority, has raised another mortgage: the future leader of the party will also be his candidate for the chancellery, which Angela Merkel will leave at most late in the legislative elections at the end of 2021.

The choice of the future party president “will be a clear signal for the candidacy for the chancellery”, hammered at a press conference Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, ex-runner-up to Angela Merkel. “The matter will then be settled,” she added.

It will then remain for the CDU to convince its Bavarian brother party CSU to endorse its choice. The latter said Monday “very surprised” not to have been consulted.

AKK has never managed to impose its authority on the party despite its election at the end of 2018 against Friedrich Merz and Jens Spahn: it took the CDU when the movement was won by the usury of power after 15 years in office Angela Merkel and failed to embody the next generation on the right.

The CDU’s governing bodies met on Monday in Berlin, the day after a scathing setback during regional elections in Hamburg.

In the Hanseatic city, the CDU was downgraded to third place with 11.2% of the vote, one of its worst post-war scores, behind Social Democrats at 39% and especially Greens from 12.3% to more than 24.2%.

The party was visibly punished following the internal turmoil which agitated it. He has been without direction for several weeks and divided by tugging on his political line, especially with regard to the extremes both on the right and on the left.

No alliance with the extreme right or the radical left?

So far the CDU has camped on a “ni-ni” line, excluding alliances with both the extreme right and the radical left. The debate peaked in the Thuringia region.

After having allied with the AfD, provoking an outcry and the resignation of AKK, the local CDU opted last weekend for cooperation with the radical left of Die Linke. Consequence: new outcry and call to order from its national leadership.

The four official candidates or presumed to take the head of the CDU, that AKK met in turn last week, will announce “quickly, this week if they are candidates or not for the chancellery”, specified the current minister of the defense.

The choice will prefigure the future direction of this party in crisis which sees its electoral base eroding. It now collects only 27% of voting intentions nationally, compared to 23% for the Greens and 14% for the far right.                 

Friedrich Merz, an old enemy of Angela Merkel whose leadership he recently described as “failing”, and Jens Spahn, a rising star of the party, want to try to recover some of the voters tempted by the far right.

The other two, Armin Laschet, a regional baron, Norbert Rottgen, former minister formerly dismissed by the chancellor, favor the pursuit of a centrist policy, even if both distance themselves from the chancellor.

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