German CDU Head Says She Won’t Seek Early Merkel Exit, Welt Says

(Bloomberg) -- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party, said she won’t try to push Angela Merkel out of office before her term as chancellor ends in the second half of 2021.

Merkel’s successor as CDU chairman also has no ambition to seek a cabinet role before the next election, she said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag published on Sunday. Her sole focus is on the party, she said. The CDU party will nominate its candidate for the chancellorship at a party conference in the fall of 2020, Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

“The chancellor and the government were elected for a full legislative term, and citizens rightly expect the commitment that came with the election to be taken seriously,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Less than halfway through her fourth term in office, Merkel remains Germany’s most popular politician even amid the party fatigue that led to her stepping down as CDU leader late last year.

Her approval rating in May was 55%, up 2 percentage points from April, in an Infratest dimap poll for ARD and Die Welt, while support for Kramp-Karrenbauer dropped 3 points to 36%. The combined ratings of the CDU and its CSU Bavarian sister party have also fallen below their 32.9% showing in the 2017 national election as European Parliament elections approach at the end of May.

Popularity Polls

In an Emnid poll for Bild newspaper published on Saturday, the CDU/CSU bloc was backed by 29% of those polled, ahead of the Green Party with 19%. Coalition partner the Social Democrats stood at 16%, and the far-right AfD got 13% support.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said the showings demonstrate the party needs to do better work. She also said last year’s separation of government and party leadership roles have taken a toll.

“The moment the offices of the chancellor and the party leader are split, there will always be space for speculation on how the cooperation is working and how long this phase will last,” she said. “It also doesn’t leave the party unaffected.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.