The New Leader of Germany’s CDU
On December 7, 2018, the German party CDU (Christian Democratic Party) voted for their new party leader. Friedrich Merz, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Jens Spahn were up for election. After 18 years, current chancellor Angel Merkel handed over the powerful position to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
What does Germanys CDU party stand for?
CDU stands for Christian Democratic Union ( = Christlich demokratische Union in German) and is the liberal-conservative party of Germany. Founded in 1945, the center-right party provided five out of eight German chancellors.
Being chancellor and head of party in Germany
It’s not a must to be chancellor AND head of the own party. Nevertheless, it has a big advantage: any party leader who is also chancellor has the greatest possible power and the greatest possible support to lead a stable government. If both offices are seperated, there is always a risk that the chancellor may lose his ties to his own party.
Digression: Until now, the only German chancellor, who did not hold office of both positions was Ludwig Erhard (CDU). He used to describe himself as a chancellor, who stands above all parties. He didnt want to be a prisoner of his own party and saw himself commited to the common good. It provided him one advantage: whenever there was a dispute within the party, he could avoid a damage to his image as it was not his responsibility to mediate.
Who is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer?
- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was born in 1962 in Völklingen, Germany, a town in Saarland. Saarland is the smallest and also poorest federal state in Germany and located next to France. Her father was principal of a special school, her mother a housewife. She has five siblings.
- She was involved in the Young Union (youth organisation of CDU and CSU party), first worked as a speaker for the former Saarland Prime Minister Peter Müller, then quickly became parliamentary director of the CDU parliamentary group in Saarland. She has been in government offices since 2000 without a break. In 2011, she became prime minister of Saarland, in 2017 she won the Saarland state elections.
- She was the first female and to date youngest state interior minister of the republic (between 2004 and 2008 in Saarland)
- Her husband Helmut Karrenbauer was a civil engineer, but he left his job to raise their three sons while Kramp-Karrenbauer focused on her political career. The two got married in 1984. The same year, in which she started studying law and political sciences.
- Some people call her “mini Merkel” due to the fact she is also quite small, has short hair, wears simple make-up and appears very humble. In the course of the refugee crisis and Merkel’s attitude of openness, Kramp-Karrenbauer supported her. She was also Merkel’s favourite for the new CDU party head.