(Bloomberg) -- Angela Merkel’s long exit from politics begins as her Christian Democratic party meets in Hamburg to pick a new leader for the first time in 18 years.
The outcome of the CDU party convention will have significant implications for the future of German and European politics. Depending on the winner, Merkel could be forced out early as chancellor or serve out her term, which ends in 2021.
- The race is wide open between the main candidates: Friedrich Merz (63), a conservative businessman and Merkel rival; Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (56), a centrist and the chancellor’s acolyte; and Jens Spahn (38), the young conservative Health Minister whose chances are slimmest
- Secret-ballot voting by the 1,001 delegates is scheduled to start at around 3 p.m. local time; though much depends on agenda items
- There will be a runoff if none of the candidates secure an absolute majority in the first round
Merkel Stands by Role as Chancellor (11:55 a.m.)
Despite giving up her role as CDU leader, Merkel left no doubt that she intends to stay on as chancellor until her term ends in 2021.
“I don’t need a leadership post to be connected with my party – and I’m also still chancellor,” said Merkel.
She said the CDU is called on more than ever to defend its liberal values and Germany’s way of life, at home and abroad. Today’s party conference is about ensuring that the CDU keeps claiming the chancellorship, after having done it for 50 years of Germany’s postwar history, she said.
Merkel Downplays Impact of CDU Leadership Change (11:40 a.m.)
Delivering her farewell address as CDU leader, Merkel downplayed the historic nature of the upcoming leadership change, saying the party has always been about more than one person.
While Germany and the party face “challenging times” -- including the emergence of the far-right AfD and social polarization -- “we faced a moment of destiny 18 years ago,” when Merkel took charge amid a party finance scandal, she said. “We kept a cool head; we relied on our own strength.”
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- Merkel’s Most Important Ally Turns Against Her in Party Struggle
- Merkel’s Party Tempted by Risky Option After 18 Years of Caution
--With assistance from Tony Czuczka.
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