Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Germany's Christian Democrats Party chose Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer Friday as its next leader, who will replace Chancellor Angela Merkel after 18 years in the post.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is also considered the front-runner to take over the chancellorship when Merkel's term ends in 2021. The delegates elected Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, in the second round of balloting Friday at the party conference in Hamburg.
Before the delegates voted, Kramp-Karrenbauer refuted the notion she's a "mini-Merkel," having been a strong supporter of the chancellor.
"People consider me a copy, just more of the same, but I can tell you that I stand here as my own person, as myself," she said.
Merkel, 64, announced in October she will not seek re-election to the post she's had since 2005.
"I'm very grateful that I could be party chairwoman for 18 years--it is a very, very long time and the CDU of course had its ups and downs," Merkel said. "But we won national elections together ... and I am happy I can remain chancellor."
Merkel received a nine-minute-long standing ovation following her final speech as party leader.
Kramp-Karrenbauer was the state premier of Saarland from 2011 to 2018 and was Merkel's favorite to be successor. She's been the party's secretary general since February.
Others that were considered include Friedrich Merz and Jens Spahn, both of whom have been critical of Merkel in the past. Merz promised to bring the party back to the right, saying Merkel has steered the party too far center or even left.