Germany’s Ruling Conservatives Scramble for Direction After Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the 32nd party conference of the Christian Democratic Union, in Leipzig, Germany, Nov. 23, 2019 (Photo by Frank Hoermann for dpa via AP Images).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the 32nd party conference of the Christian Democratic Union, in Leipzig, Germany, Nov. 23, 2019 (Photo by Frank Hoermann for dpa via AP Images).

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan for a smooth retirement collapsed last week when her hand-picked successor unexpectedly resigned, throwing Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, into turmoil. Germany’s most powerful political party is now frantically searching for a new leader, even as it grapples with a broader identity crisis after shedding supporters to both left-leaning and far-right parties. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, or AKK as she is widely known in Germany, succeeded Merkel as CDU leader in late 2018 as part of the veteran chancellor’s plan to gradually retire from politics ahead of next year’s general election. Her tenure as party […]

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