Merkel’s Possible Successor Kramp-Karrenbauer Under Fire as Time Ticking for German State Elections

© AP Photo / Markus Schreiber German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the governor of German Saarland state and designated Christian Democratic Union party General Secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, right, attend a party leaders' meeting in Berlin, Germany. 19 February, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the governor of German Saarland state and designated Christian Democratic Union party General Secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, right, attend a party leaders' meeting in Berlin, Germany. 19 February, 2018  - Sputnik International
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Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded Angela Merkel as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats Union (CDU) party in December. In July, she was promoted to Defence Minister and is widely seen as the most promising candidate to be the next German Chancellor.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was criticised earlier this week by the youth wing of Germany’s Christian Democrats Union (CDU) party after she made it clear that she could expel former head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maaßen from the CDU.

“There are high hurdles for expelling someone from a party, and with good reason. But in Mr. Maaßen I no longer see an attitude that ties him to the CDU,” she said, explaining later that she didn’t meant to expel him by saying so.

CDU youth wing’s criticism of Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known as AKK and sometimes referred to as the “mini-Merkel”, comes as more questions arise about her ability to act as a peacemaker between the CDU’s liberal and conservative wings ahead of the country’s state elections in September following a series of missteps.

Kramp-Karrenbauer’s Missteps

In June, critics slammed the way Kramp-Karrenbauer celebrated a CDU candidate’s victory over a rival from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the mayorship race in the town of Goelitz. She was berated for turning a blind eye to the fact that the Green and left parties moved to withdraw their candidates to create a united front against the right-wing hopefuls.

In May, she moved to escalate a scandal around leading German YouTube star Rezo releasing a viral video in which he attacked the government and said that it’s time to destroy the mainstream parties. 

© REUTERS / KHALID AL-MOUSILYGerman Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks during a joint news conference with Iraqi Minister of Defense Najah al-Shammari at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq, August 20, 2019
Merkel’s Possible Successor Kramp-Karrenbauer Under Fire as Time Ticking for German State Elections - Sputnik International
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks during a joint news conference with Iraqi Minister of Defense Najah al-Shammari at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq, August 20, 2019

Earlier, she provoked public uproar with comments about gender-neutral bathrooms at a carnival in Baden-Wurttemberg.

She claimed that such bathrooms were “for the men who don’t know if they are still allowed to stand or already have to sit down when they pee.”

Alexander Vogt, chair of the CDU’s gay and lesbian association, was quick to comment by saying that if Kramp-Karrenbauer’s remarks “happened without thinking, then it’s a sign of how common this kind of thinking is across the country.”

The German weekly Der Spiegel has meanwhile argued that the conservatives in the CDU “now know that they can’t count on their leader [Kramp-Karrenbauer], while the liberals “don’t trust her to protect Merkel’s legacy.”

Referring to her remarks about Maaßen, the newspaper Die Zeit said that it would never have happened to Merkel because “she would have simply ignored Maaßen until he lost his wit or left the party for the AfD of his own accord.”

In December 2018, Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded Merkel as leader of the CDU, before becoming German Defence Minister in July, after Ursula von der Leyen was made European Commission President. A former leader of the state of Saarland, Kramp-Karrenbauer is still considered by many as the politician most likely to take over from Merkel when her term ends in 2021.

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