An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who is running to succeed her as leader of Germany's main center-right party said yesterday that an era is ending with Merkel's departure but her legacy can't be reversed.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a former state governor and now the general secretary of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, also promoted her own service to the party and years of government experience as she presented her candidacy.
Merkel announced last week she will give up the CDU leadership after 18 years in December but plans to remain chancellor, a job that she has held for 13 years, until the next election.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, is regarded as one of the favorites to succeed Merkel, along with a onetime rival of the chancellor, former parliamentary leader Friedrich Merz, who is seeking a comeback after a decade away from frontline politics. Kramp-Karrenbauer sought to portray herself as someone who can deliver renewal to a party sagging in polls but also a reassuring measure of continuity. "With the party leader's decision, this era is ending, and such an era can't be continued indefinitely — but it also can't be reversed," she said at a news conference in Berlin, adding that "you always, in both positive and negative ways, stand on the shoulders of your successor." "It is time to open a new chapter with new issues, with a new style, to achieve new strength," she said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer's pitch dwelled heavily on her nearly 18 years in government in western Saarland state, where she was the first woman to serve as a German state's interior minister and more recently a popular governor. She noted that she gave up that job in February to become the party's general secretary, putting herself "at the service of the CDU," and has spent recent months listening closely to members. She said she has "particular experience in how to win majorities ... and how to defend them."