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Merkel bows out as CDU prepares to vote on successor

IANS  |  Berlin 

German gave an emotional farewell speech to her ruling Union (CDU) party as she stepped down as its on Friday and was given a standing ovation of over six minutes.

Her of 1,001 representatives, among them 658 male and 343 females, was set to vote later in the day to decide on a successor to 64-year-old Merkel, its of 18 years. She decided not to re-run in October, after suffering major setbacks in two state elections earlier this year.

Merkel fought back tears as CDU delegates gave her the standing ovation amid cheers and cries. Delegates held posters stating: "Thanks boss, for 18 years of leadership".

She hinted that she was supporting the party's current General Secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to succeed her, praising her electoral performance as of Saarland, the reported.

According to a DeutschlandTrend survey, 47 per cent of CDU supporters would like Kramp-Karrenbauer to take the party lead. Popular in and Berlin, Kramp-Karrenbauer has an unpretentious style and a reputation for calm analysis as well as political acumen.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's key rival is He was a in the CDU in the early 2000s but left when he fell out with the

Merz has strong links to the US, has built a career in the private sector and works for US investment firm

Jens Spahn, currently the in Merkel's and the third candidate in the running, appeared to have less chance of winning, the reported. He was once described by former Wolfgang Schäuble as "one of the great hopes for the future of our party".

"Our liberal values must be defended, internally and externally," Merkel said in her speech that was punctuated by applause. She warned of tough challenges ahead, including climate change, maintaining European unity and coping with Brexit.

The reminded the CDU of other electoral successes in 2017 and avoided mentioning this year's setbacks in state elections.

"I don't need to be to remain bound to this party. And I'm still Chancellor," said Merkel, who has been since 2000 and was elected in 2005. She was re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2018.

Whoever gets elected, the new would face tricky challenges, including finding the right way to cooperate with Merkel, coordinating party strategies and policies, and coping with the other two governing parties -- the and the

The DeutschlandTrend survey showed that a majority of Germans, 57 per cent, wanted Merkel to remain Chancellor until the next



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, December 07 2018. 20:12 IST