The race to lead Germany’s Christian Democratic Union heats up

The race to lead Germany’s Christian Democratic Union heats up

Candidates for leader of the Christian Democrat Union, Germany’s ruling centre-right party, will appear at the second of eight regional

cdu leadership germany

Photo: Reuters

Candidates for leader of the Christian Democrat Union, Germany’s ruling centre-right party, will appear at the second of eight regional conferences ahead of the December 7 leadership election.

Following a drop in CDU support at regional elections in Hesse, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would step down as party leader at the December national conference. The leading candidates have emerged as CDU Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Friedrich Merz, a wealthy lawyer and ex-parliamentarian.

The two offer competing visions for the CDU. Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel ally, would likely stay the course of the chancellor’s cautious centrism. Mr Merz would steer the party to the right in a bid to win over voters of the far-right Alternative for Germany. Both will probably take a more restrictive stance on migration than Merkel.

The winning candidate will not immediately become chancellor. However, the victor will signal how much the CDU will tack to the right at the next election, though either leader would likely keep a broadly centrist outlook and not lurch far rightward. Still, Mr Merz’s—or underdog conservative Jens Spahn’s—election could accelerate the current grand coalition’s decline and increase the chance of fresh elections.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.