Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Germany's Defense Minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel's close associate, is resigning as leader of the Chancellor's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party; She has also said she will not compete for the country's top job in the next election.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, or AKK as she is known, announced on Monday that she will no longer lead the CDU. Likewise, she will not be running for Chancellor in the next election in October 2021 when Merkel is to stand down.
AKK said she will remain the chair of the CDU until the party finds another candidate for the top job. She also told journalists that she’ll keep her post as Germany’s defense minister until the end of the current legislative period.
A CDU spokesman said that the process for choosing a candidate for Chancellor will be set up by the summer. AKK will give up the leadership as soon as she makes sure that the CDU is prepared for the future, he added.
Kramp-Karrenbauer was picked as CDU chief back in 2018, being widely seen as Merkel's potential successor. But a series of political crises made critics argue that the 57-year-old politician isn't up to the top job.
Last week’s news further undermined her political career. At the time, regional MPs in the eastern state of Thuringia gathered to approve a new government after last October’s elections.
No party secured an overwhelming majority but Thuringia’s former Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow of the Left Party, sought to stay in office, benefiting from an alliance with the Greens and Social Democrats.
All of a sudden, the CDU sided with rightwing Alternative for Germany (AfD) and pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), electing Ramelow’s rival Thomas Kemmerich instead, breaking a long-standing taboo on cooperating with AfD.
The rebellious CDU move not only sent shockwaves through the ruling center-right coalition, but also showed AKK was effectively powerless to maintain order in her own party.
Embarrassingly, Merkel had to cut short her visit to South Africa to deal with the crisis. She insisted that what Thuringia’s CDU members had done was “unforgivable” and demanded that the vote be reversed. As a result Kemmerich resigned after 24 hours.
This new fiasco at the top of the CDU can only be immensely damaging and it is questionable how much longer Chancellor Merkel can remain in office. There is growing dismay as the party’s electoral fortunes plummet for which the present Chancellor is largely held responsible. AKK has been pilloried for failing to maintain party discipline and reverse electoral decline. It remains to be seen whether any new leader can be more successful without a drastic change of policies, notably on immigration and the Euro.