İrem UZUN -TDO - The embattled leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) has challenged delegates at the party’s conference to back her vision or else “end it here and now”, amid deep divisions over the future direction of the party. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the CDU’s annual conference in Leipzig she was putting her future on the line in response to stinging criticism over her leadership style.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has been leader of Germany's largest party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), since Merkel quit as its leader in 2018 to focus on her continuing role as the country's chancellor. The CDU leader, a close ally of Merkel, would likely become chancellor if she leads her party into the next election – but on Friday she offered to quit. Poor election results and her low popularity have led to discontent within the CDU.

But in a speech on Friday, Ms. Kramp-Karrenbauer, 57, issued an ultimatum to her opponents. "If you are of the opinion that the Germany I want is not the one you want ... then we should end it. Here, now and today," she told the party conference in a rousing 90-minute speech. "But, dear friends, if you want this Germany, if you want to take this path together... then let's roll up our sleeves here and now and make a start”. At the end of the speech, most of 1000 delegates gave the party leader a standing ovation that lasted at least seven minutes. Merkel also gave a speech at the congress, struck a more conciliatory tone and called for party unity.

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