German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given an emotional farewell speech to her ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), as she steps down as party leader.
In her final speech as party chair at the CDU conference in Hamburg, Angela Merkel stressed togetherness and subtly endorsed a potential successor.
“Our liberal values must be defended, internally and externally,” she said.
DW reports that “Merkel began her address by drawing attention to the motto of the party conference “Zusammenführen. Und zusammen führen” (Bring together and lead together). It was an implicit appeal for party solidarity despite what many expected to be a neck-and-neck race between the pro-Merkel centrist Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the conservative Merkel critic Friedrich Merz. Merkel recalled the dire state of the CDU, which was in the midst of a party financing scandal, when she took over in 2000.”
“Our CDU is a different one than in 2000, and that is good,” Merkel said, adding that the party couldn’t afford to live in the past but needed to look forward to the future.
She hinted that she was backing Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed her, praising her electoral performance as chief minister of Saarland.
Despite quitting as CDU leader Ms Merkel plans to remain German chancellor until her term ends in 2021.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer’s chief rival in Friday’s CDU vote is millionaire corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz. The third candidate, health minister Jens Spahn, appears to have less chance of winning.
BBC reports that “Ms Merkel’s speech was punctuated by applause and she got a standing ovation of more than six minutes at the end. CDU delegates at the congress in Hamburg also held up signs saying “Thanks boss”. Then the conservative party paid tribute to Ms Merkel, 64, with a video showing highlights from her 18-year CDU leadership. The soundtrack was the 1960s hit Days, by The Kinks.”