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Angela Merkel's expected successor resigns over party discord

Angela Merkel's expected successor resigns over party discord
Christian Democratic Union party chair Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced Monday she was resigning her position and would not run for chancellor. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely seen as the successor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, resigned Monday as head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union.

Kramp-Karrenbauer made the surprise announcement that she will quit as head of the party, and added she doesn't plan to run for Merkel's post in the next federal election, either.

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Kramp-Karrenbauer, 57, cited as reasons for her resignation the CDU's unclear position toward cooperation with the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland and left-wing Die Linkie parties. She's said previously she opposes cooperating with both parties.

She strengthened her position to follow Merkel in December 2018 when she won the contest to succeed Merkel as CDU head, but received pushback from some in the party who sought to defy a ban to cooperate with the AfD.

Earlier this month, some members of the CDU joined the AFD in removing Die Linke chief Bodo Ramelow from his post, which angered Merkel.

Since World War II, mainstream German parties have largely avoided working with far-right and extremist political organizations.

Some believe Kramp-Karrenbauer's announcement opens the door for Merkel critic Friedrich Merz, a favorite of more conservative factions of the CDU, to take command of the party and become the next chancellor. It was Merz who Kramp-Karrenbauer defeated for the party's leadership a year ago.

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Merkel has said she won't seek re-election next year, opting to leave politics completely.

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