The president of the CDU faces her critics to succeed Merkel

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It was no accident that Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chose Leipzig as a city to hold its federal congress. For many Germans this Saxon metropolis represents the last refuge of the resistance and, thirty years after the peaceful revolution, a symbol to commemorate the brave of 1989. In essence, the unity of a country in which yesterday tries to reflect the the chancellor's party as an antidote to stop the rise of the extreme right and to make clear its turn towards the center. Leipzig is a test for Christian Democrats at a time when the elections held in the east of the country resulted in narrow margins of victory and with the reaffirmation that the Alternative xenophobic formation for Germany (AfD) is also struggling to endorse that idea of ​​unity.

Will they be able to overcome it? It will depend on how to conclude today that congress that started with the evidence of two weaknesses: the questioned leadership of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer after relieving Angela Merkel and the persistent erosion suffered by the great German parties.

Reason for more for the chancellor's successor to show her more combative side yesterday and urged the CDU delegates to support her or "end here and now." A lapidary phrase that for many of those present was addressed to the sectors that since their election have most called into question their work, but especially Friedrich Merz with whom he challenged himself to get the leadership of his party and that, however , and after losing by a narrow margin, continues to awaken the sympathies of many of the most conservative affiliates for professing and defending the positions to the right of the democratic party. Merz, who praised AKK's "brave words," never tires of criticizing the "finely bad" image of the Great Coalition.

"If you are of the opinion that the Germany I want is not the Germany you imagine, if you are of the opinion that the way I want to proceed is not correct, let's talk today and finish here and now," said the well-known as AKK as a climax to a centrist speech that started the ovation of those present.

The head of the CDU stood up to her detractors and those who "speak badly" of her party. "We are a great popular party and we are not going to let them sink us into ruin," AKK said to criticize those who "speak badly" about the formation, as if "in the last 14 years everything had gone wrong."

In addition, and once again facing internal criticism, Kramp-Karrenbauer lashed out at the most right-wing sector of the party – the so-called Securities Union – and asserted that «There is no other defender of our values ​​than the CDU».

He also ratified the rejection of the extreme right, whose "incendiary" speech is the breeding ground for crimes such as the attack suffered last year by the CDU politician Walter Lübcke, killed last year by a neo-Nazi.

But the doubts that occur in the CDU do not fall solely on the figure of AKK. For months, within the party there is talk of the "decline of Merkel" and there are few who assume that the chancellor will not complete the current legislature. Uncertainties that Merkel herself wanted to settle yesterday with a call to complete the work of her current government coalition, so she can continue working "for a Germany and for a strong Europe." «Next year Germany will occupy the EU Presidency during the second semester. It is important that we can continue with our work, ”said the chancellor.

The CDU is the "center party, for Germany and for Europe" and referred to the special significance that city had for it, where it studied Physics – even in the times of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) -, or the personal relevance that it meant today, in which fourteen years of his first investiture as chancellor were fulfilled. "Four legislatures followed that first election," he recalled. Throughout these periods, and under the leadership of the CDU, crises such as the euro were overcome, he added, to highlight the efforts made by countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Merkel's speech was preceded by words of greetings from the future president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who described Merkel as "the toughest negotiator one can find in life," but also that in the worse situations are "bridges of dialogue" and "consensus."

The congress of the CDU concludes this Saturday with the intervention of Markus Söder, the leader of the Bavarian Social Christian Union (CSU). Söder could be the name of consensus or compromise solution for the conservative block. The last time the designation of a joint candidate fell to a leader of the CSU was in the generals of 2002, in which the Bavarian Edmund Stoiber faced – and was defeated – by the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Both AKK and the rest of the dome of the CDU want the "K-Frage" (question of the Chancellery) to be defined next 2020, one year before the general elections, scheduled for 2021.

Above the debate around AKK or Merz, the CDU is concerned about the loss of electorate. "Surely if Merz had been imposed as head of the party last year, his situation would now be like Annegret's," said Economy Minister Peter Altmaier. The CDU has lost "electoral substance," Altmaier admitted. Of the 41.5% obtained in the 2013 generals he spent four years later at the historical low of 32.9%. The polls now place you between 26% and 29% of votes.

. (tagsToTranslate) Germany (t) Elections in Germany (t) Angela Merkel (t) Extreme right

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