Magazine article The Spectator

Meet Merkel's Crown Princess

Magazine article The Spectator

Meet Merkel's Crown Princess

Article excerpt

The Chancellor has named her successor

On Monday, Angela Merkel did something quite extraordinary. As speculation about her party's leadership mounted, she named an apparent successor: thae 55-year-old Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, appointed as the new general secretary of her Christian Democratic Union party. The choice came like a lightning strike: AKK, as she is already called, was to leave her job as a successful minister-president of the tiny federal state of Saarland and assume the governing position in her party. Now she sits as the CDU's crown princess, looking to take the throne at (or even before) the next German election in 2021.

So Merkel has answered critics who considered her unwilling or unable to refresh her senior team. 'The Chancellor without an alternative' she used to be called -- a phrase that looked rather complacent after the cataclysmic election where Merkel seemed to have single-handedly made Alternative für Deutschland into a force in German politics.

Elevating AKK was most unlike Merkel. In her 12 years at the helm, she has cunningly nipped one potential rival after another in the bud. Helmut Kohl did the same in his 16 years as chancellor. To name a successor -- or even build up a potential heir -- was alien to both Merkel and Kohl's thinking. Their definition of succession management was to see off any likely successor.

But Germany is now impatient with Merkel's indistinct style -- so into the breach jumps the cool and unpretentious AKK, who didn't wait to be called upon but offered herself as the candidate for the recently vacant post of general secretary. A job Merkel herself held under Kohl -- a fact she seemed to have forgotten when she erroneously introduced Kramp-Karrenbauer by proclaiming that 'in her, the CDU has the first woman general secretary in its history'. …

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