Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, general secretary of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, specifically focused on why she should be the next CDU leader, saying that the era of Angela Merkel was coming to a close.
"This is the end of an era with which I associate many personal relations and personal experiences. But that era is over, and such an era can neither simply be continued nor be reversed. The decisive question is what you do with what you have inherited that is new and better," Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized.
Separately, she referred to her "listening tour" of the CDU's grassroots organizations, saying that the members were full of "pride, frustration, concern and uncertainty" due to the party's poor election results in the state of Hesse.
Addressing the upcoming elections, Kramp-Karrenbauer cautioned against a divisive campaign for the helm of the CDU, which she stressed "wants to remain a party that values the binding above the divisive."
In this vein, she touched upon the political repercussions of Merkel's decision to open Germany's border with Austria in September 2015 and let in refugees, a move that split opinions among CDU members.
"If you think you can have the discussion with the idea that you can reverse what happened in 2015, we have to be honest […] and say: What happened in 2015 is a reality, it's a fact. The second point is, and we have to make this very clear, is that very early after 2015, we worked to make sure that what happened in 2015 would not happen again, something I saw and helped work towards as state minister-president," Kramp-Karrenbauer pointed out.
According to her, security-related issues are also of great importance, something that should not be resolved in "a national "context."
"We in Germany live in an open Europe, we live in the Schengen Area, and it is our task to decide how this Schengen Area can be completed. How can it create internal safety, guarantee internal freedom, but organize external security? The question of how to protect ourselves from criminals is not one we can answer in Germany alone," she concluded.
The announcement was made a day after the Christian Democrats suffered serious losses in the state election in Hesse; it received 27 percent of the vote, 11 percentage points less than its results in the state's last election in 2013.
The popularity rating of the Christian Democrats has recently plummeted in all nationwide polls, with its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), also losing 10 percent of the vote in October's state elections.