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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: Favourite to replace Merkel stands down

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The leader of Germany's main governing party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, is standing down and will not put herself forward to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor, reports say.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer took over as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December 2018.

She was seen as the favourite to take over as German chancellor in 2021.

The CDU was recently criticised over a contested regional election result in the eastern state of Thuringia.

Last week, some of the CDU's local politicians in Thuringia voted with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to install liberal candidate Thomas Kemmerich as regional premier.

Mr Kemmerich later said he would resign and seek new elections in the state, "to remove the stain of the AfD's support for the office of the premiership".

For mainstream parties to collaborate with the AfD is considered a taboo, and no state premier has ever taken office before with the aid of the AfD.

The AfD has grown in popularity in recent years but has been condemned for its extreme views on immigration, freedom of speech and the press.

Turbulent months ahead for Germany

After a series of public blunders, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer finally fell over her inability to control her party – and its attitude toward the far right – in Germany's former east.

Like other mainstream parties, the CDU has still not found the formula for winning back voters lured by AfD's xenophobic nationalism – particularly ardent in the state of Thuringia, where the AfD more than doubled its vote in a regional election last year, leading to an inconclusive result.

The episode has dashed Chancellor Merkel's hopes of a smooth transition of power when she steps down next year. Attention is turning to the handful of men jostling to succeed her – at least three of whom would likely steer the CDU to the right-of-centre.

All this as Germany's Green Party edges closer and closer in the polls.

It is going to be a turbulent few months for German politics. Not least because what began as an inconclusive regional election has demonstrated the ability of Germany's far right to cause political chaos at the very highest level.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer – also known as AKK – made the surprise announcement that she no longer wanted to lead her CDU party following a meeting with members.

At that meeting, she said that parts of the CDU held an ambiguous position towards the far right and left.

In November, AKK urged critics to support her vision for Germany and threatened to stand down if the party failed to back her at the CDU's annual congress in Leipzig.

She is now expected to remain in position until a leaderRead More – Source