Germany’s majority ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) elected Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Friday, December 7, as their new leader to succeed longtime party leader and Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, Merkel will remain chancellor until future federal elections in 2021. The former minister-president of Saarland defeated former Member of European Parliament Friedrich Merz and the country’s Minister of Health Jens Spahn, who could have been Germany’s first openly gay chancellor in its history.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who has been viewed a loyalist to Merkel and the center-right Christian democratic party’s favorite to win, is fiscally progressive when it comes to her support of mandatory gender quotas for adult women on corporate business boards and establishing a federal minimum wage to combat economic inequality. In regards to foreign policy, Kramp-Karrenbauer supports tightening migration and immigration in the wake of the recent migrant crisis throughout Europe and tougher action against Russia over their involvement with recent cyber attacks, the Syrian Civil War, and the Ukranian Conflict. On social issues, Kramp-Karrenbauer is personally against same-sex marriage equality between LGBTQ couples and has argued for more legal restrictions imposed on medical doctors carrying out abortion procedures.
The CDU’s new party leader will have to face a potentially polarized electorate in future state, local, and federal elections as the progressive Greens made significant gains in October’s Bavarian elections as well as recent federal election polls, and the right-wing to far-right populist party Alternative for Germany is almost securing traction in Eastern Germany. Furthermore, the center-left Social Democrats could become divided between third way moderates who wish to continue coalitions with the CDU and more left-leaning progressives who do not want to work with the CDU.
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