On Saturday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s successor will be elected at the head of the CDU. In her farewell speech, she recalled the struggles during her term in office – and gave the delegates a message.
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In her farewell speech at the CDU federal party congress, the outgoing CDU chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer looked back with sadness at her end as party leader, but defended her withdrawal. “He was carefully considered and he was right,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer on Friday evening at the party conference, which is being held completely digitally because of the pandemic.
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The step was difficult for her at the time, said the Saarland woman. “I know that many of you who chose me hoped for more from me and were disappointed with mistakes. Not always being able to live up to your expectations and my own standards still hurts today.”
CDU have “looked into the abyss”
Nevertheless, Kramp-Karrenbauer drew a positive balance of her two-year term in office in her last party conference speech as CDU leader. Before being elected party leader in 2018, the party “looked into the abyss,” she said. The CDU was “troubled” by the dispute over migration policy, and a “deep rift” had opened up between the CDU and CSU.
“ The dispute brought us to the brink of the failure of our community,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, referring to the relationship between the sister parties. “Something like that must never happen to us again.” Today they are handing over a party that is well positioned for the upcoming election campaigns. “ The CDU is ready for the election year 2021,” she said. The party’s campaign capability and digital communication have “improved significantly”. Today the CDU could “rightly say: We made up”.
Kramp-Karrenbauer had announced her resignation in February of last year because of the dispute over the election of FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich as Prime Minister in Thuringia with votes from the CDU and the AfD. The Thuringian state association had opposed guidelines from the federal CDU.
The CDU found itself in an “existentially difficult situation” at the time. “It was not just about a regional question, it was about the soul of our party,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer. She felt “that as party leader I no longer had enough authority and support to bring our party through this difficult phase unscathed.” You have therefore decided not to run as a candidate for chancellor and pave the way for a new chairman.
AKK’s successor will be elected on Saturday
Before the election of the new party leader on Saturday, Kramp-Karrenbauer called on her colleagues to unite. “Let us all support the new chairman of the CDU,” she said at the end of her 15-minute speech. “Let us stand together for a modern and open CDU, for a union that sticks together, for a CDU that is more closely connected to the local people than any other party.”
In a greeting, Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled the challenges during her chancellorship. It was “difficult and challenging times for our country,” said Merkel. She referred to the global financial and economic crisis, the EU debt crisis, migration and currently the “event of the century” of the corona pandemic.
The citizens have gained “strength and resilience” through the crises, and she is convinced that “that will continue to be the case after this pandemic,” said the Chancellor. At the same time, she referred to the challenges of digitalization and climate change, which would lead to “fundamental changes” in the world. The CDU, according to Merkel, will not only accept these challenges, but will find good answers because it “approaches things pragmatically”.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet, ex-faction leader Friedrich Merz and the former Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen are applying for Kramp-Karrenbauer’s successor. The election of the new party leader is on Saturday morning.