Back me or sack me, protege of Germany’s Merkel tells her party

CDU party chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer speaks at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party congress in Leipzig, Germany, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel

LEIPZIG, Germany (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s would-be successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer urged delegates from her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to back her vision for Germany at their party congress on Friday or else “let’s end it here and now.”

Kramp-Karrenbauer, 57, has made several gaffes since taking over as CDU leader last December that have dented her popularity and raised questions about her suitability to be the party’s candidate for chancellor when Merkel leaves office.

“If you are of the view that the Germany I want is not the Germany you imagine, if you are of the view that the way I want to go with you is not the way you think is the right one, then let’s speak today and let’s end it today, here, now,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said to gasps.

“But, dear friends, if you want this Germany, if you want to take this path together … then let’s roll up our sleeves here and now and make a start,” she added before delegates showed their support with a seven-minute standing ovation.

On Kramp-Karrenbauer’s watch, the CDU suffered losses in an election to the European Parliament in May and endured setbacks in regional elections, which she described as “painful” in a speech lasting close to 1-1/2 hours.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin

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