Angela Merkel named as Harvard’s 2019 Commencement Speaker

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2018

German Chancellor and chairwoman of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Angela Merkel, waves after her farewell speech during a party convention of the CDU in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, is Merkel's protege and was the continuity candidate favoured by the party elite.

Angela Merkel made a thinly veiled plea for delegates at the Christian Democrat party conference to vote for her preferred candidate on Friday, as the party prepared to make the biggest decision on its future in nearly half a century. Friedrich Merz, the millionaire businessman, won 392 votes from delegates meeting in Hamburg.

Ms Merkel is stepping down as leader after 18 years but has pledged to remain as chancellor - something that would be easier if Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, seen as an ally, succeeds her in the CDU role.

Her resignation came as the CDU and its sister party CSU suffered two humiliating defeats in the key regional elections in Hesse and Bavaria, respectively one of the most important financial centre of the country and one of the areas most affected by immigration.

A survey by pollster Infratest dimap for broadcaster ARD on Thursday showed 47 per cent of CDU members favoured Kramp-Karrenbauer compared with 37 per cent for Merz and 12 per cent for Health Minister Jens Spahn.

While she supported Mrs Merkel's refugee policy and has a liberal position on women's rights and a minimum wage, she has also expressed more conservative views. More generous family leave, an exit from nuclear power and an end to military conscription were among her signature policies. 1001 delegates are electing a successor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who doesn't run again for party chairmanship after more than 18 years at the helm of the party.

So what kind of politician is AKK - as she is often called? "Merz could be tempted to see his revenge and lunge for power (as soon as next year)".

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AKK is believed to have Merkel's strong backing but much will depend on how deep and widespread the longing is for a more conservative profile.

CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, known as AKK, is one of the candidates tipped to take over from Merkel.

"Now it is time to open a new chapter", Merkel said.

National broadsheet Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Schaeuble's move signalled that the CDU's long-festering divisions, thinly veiled by unity behind Merkel, could well break out in the open after the conference.

The new CDU leader will be chosen by 1,001 delegates who vote at the congress later on Friday.

"The CDU of the Merkel years is falling apart", it said.

Whoever wins will face towering challenges for the party, which is now drawing roughly 30 per cent at the polls, far below the around 40 per cent enjoyed during Merkel's heyday.

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