Kramp-Karrenbauer wins first round vote to replace Merkel as CDU leader

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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer waves at members of the Christian Democratic Union after her election as the new leader, next to German Chancellor and outgoing CDU leader Angela Merkel.

"Over her four terms as Germany's chancellor, her leadership has done much to shape the course not only of her nation, but also of Europe and the larger world".

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is regularly referred to as AKK, is now largely expected to become German Chancellor when Angela Merkel retires in 2021.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a Merkel ally, said: "I am convinced that with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, we have the best chance of the CDU winning an election", adding she would be the most risky candidate to face the centre-left Social Democrats and the ecologist Greens.

Follow Sputnik's live feed to find out more. She was greeted by a several-minute standing ovation, with some delegates holding up "Thank you, boss!" placards.

However, AKK told CDU delegates she had a lot to offer during her acceptance speech in Hamburg. "I truly wish the best for my party".

AKK - as she is widely known - grew up in a Catholic family in Saarland in south-western Germany, the country's smallest state.

'I wasn't born as chancellor or as party leader, ' she said. She was at the funeral of George HW Bush on Tuesday. She moved her party relentlessly to the centre, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children and allowing the introduction of gay marriage.

Candidates Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz right leave the podium after Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer won the vote
APCandidates Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz right leave the podium after Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer won the vote

Merkel has been CDU leader since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

Kramp-Karrenbauer made her case ahead of the vote by saying the CDU had to maintain its position as the "last unicorn in Europe", the bloc's last successful catch-all party.

She would be the most unsafe candidate to face the centre-left Social Democrats and the ecologist Greens, he added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's trump card is her record as a former state premier in Saarland, where she led a broad coalition with the Greens and pro-business Free Democrats, alliance-building skills useful in Germany's fractured political landscape.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, has differentiated herself from Dr Merkel on social and foreign policy by voting in favour of quotas for women on corporate boards, opposed by Dr Merkel, and by taking a tougher line on Russian Federation. 1001 delegates are electing a successor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who doesn't run again for party chairmanship after more than 18 years at the helm of the party. He wants tax cuts, a bigger German contribution to holding together the European Union, and a more robust approach to challenging the far right.

Merz will benefit from the fact that 296 of the delegates at the Congress nearly a third will be from his home state, the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Both have prominent backers, though many CDU grandees - including the chancellor - have held off publicly endorsing a candidate.

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