Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, elected the CDU chair at the beginning of December, has won the endorsement of 58 percent of respondents in a respected popularity rating by the weekly Der Spiegel, outranking the current German chancellor. Her numbers have spiked by 16 percent in comparison to the poll, held in September before Angela Merkel declined to seek re-election.
Merkel, who passed the CDU leadership to Kramp-Karrenbauer, has come third with 48 percent in the recent survey. However, first place remained with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, representing the Social Democrats (SPD), who once served as the vice chancellor and foreign minister to Merkel. Another social democrat, incumbent Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has taken the fourth place with 45 percent, only one point above co-leader of the left-wing Die Linke’s parliamentary group Sahra Wagenknecht.
Meanwhile, Kramp-Karrenbaur’s contenders for the CDU leadership at the recent party conference, Health Minister Jens Spahn and millionaire lawyer Friedrich Merz, who returned to politics after years in business, lost to her in the poll. However, the CDU leader election campaign worked out well for both politicians, as Merz returned to the poll with 38 percent for the first time since 2005, while Spahn received 4 points more than in September’s survey. He is still 7 percent behind Merz, however.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected to succeed Angela Merkel as the party leader at a party conference in December. Merz and Spahn came second and third, respectively. The reshuffle happened after the announcement that Merkel would neither run for CDU party leadership again nor seek a fifth term as chancellor in 2021, setting a deadline for her exit from German politics, following dismal results in regional elections.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is known for voicing concerns regarding giving full adoption rights to same-sex couples and has also argued against revising the definition of marriage to being simply "a long-term responsible partnership between two adults", claiming it could lead to demands to legalise marriages between close relatives, humans and animals, as well as polygamy. She is also a strong supporter of Angela Merkel's migration policies, including her decision to let in over a million migrants in 2015.