Merkel replaced as party leader by ally

By AAP Newswire

Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union elected its secretary-general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as the party's new leader, thus replacing Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has held the post for the past 18 years.

AKK, as the moderate-leaning politician is widely known, won the balloting at the CDU's party convention in the northern German city of Hamburg over her right-wing rivals, Friedrich Merz and Jens Spahn on Friday.

"I recognise the election and feel thankful for the trust," Kramp-Karrenbauer said after learning the result, while thanking Spahn and Merz for "delivering a fair contest."

According to preliminary results, she won around 51 per cent of the votes cast by the party's 1,001 delegates while Merz obtained 49 per cent in the head-to-head second round of the election.

Spahn had been eliminated from contention after getting the lowest number of votes in the first round.

A former state premier in Saarland, where she led a three-way coalition, Kramp-Karrenbauer has a reputation for uniting support across the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a talent for striking alliances with other parties.

Sometimes dubbed "mini Merkel", Kramp-Karrenbauer is admired by the CDU upper echelons for her appeal across the party.

Merkel intends to serve out the end of her term until then, but Friday's vote may also be decisive on whether she lasts that long.

According to a poll released by public broadcaster ARD on Thursday, the majority of Germans say that Merkel should remain in office for the full three years, while slightly more than a third are of the opinion that Merkel should stand down early.