Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the intended successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has announced her intentions to step down as party leader.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbaurer, known as AKK in Germany, made her announcement Monday during a press conference saying that she did not want to run for Chancellor of Germany in the next federal election and that she would also resign as leader of the CDU, Bild reports.
The successor to Chancellor Merkel, who was voted party leader in December of 2018, claimed that there was a distinct lack of support for her among fellow party members and a poll released over the weekend showed only 15 per cent of Germans thought she was the right person for the job.
AKK is expected to remain on as party leader into the summer, with a new leadership race expected by December when the next CDU national party convention is held. She is also expected to remain defence minister, with Chancellor Merkel voicing her approval.
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Reactions within the CDU to the announcement have been critical, most notably from former defence minister Volker Rühe who has also called for Chancellor Merkel to resign.
“Respect for the decision! However, we must not forget who suggested Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to the post of party leader, who proposed her for it,” he said.
Wolfgang Bosbach, a noted conservative figure in the CDU, blamed the crisis in the state of Thuringia for the resignation of AKK, saying: “Without the events in Thuringia, it would not have come that far, I am certain.”
Thuringia’s regional government was placed into crisis after the populist Alternative for Germany, led by firebrand Bjorn Hocke, supported libertarian Free Democrat (FDP) candidate Thomas Kemmerich to be elected Minister-President, alongside the CDU.
The cooperation between the AfD and the CDU was the first-ever and caused nationwide condemnation across the mainstream political spectrum. Kemmerich was forced to resign just 24 hours after his election.
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Former leader of the Social Democrats Sigmar Gabriel predicted that the announcement could have serious effects on the future of the grand coalition between the SPD and the CDU, saying: “I suspect it won’t be long before there will be new elections.”
Dietmar Gerhard Bartsch, chairman of the far-left party Die Linke in the Bundestag, went even further saying: “The CDU is currently not capable of governing. Stop that government.”