Merkel Tells Germany’s Ruling CDU to Prepare for ‘Time after Me’ in Measured Farewell Address
Merkel’s main message for the CDU has been to stick with party unity in the face of slumping public support.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has formally resigned as party leader of her ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at a party conference in Hamburg.
In October, Merkel decided to step down as CDU head and as German Chancellor after her present and fourth term expires in 2021 after her party did unconvincingly in the election in the Central West German state of Hesse, and the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered a similar fate in Bavaria’s election.
The CDU party conference in Hamburg on December 7 – 8, 2018, is also due to elect her successor, with the frontrunners being party secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel’s favorite, and her long-time critic Friedrich Merz. Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn is also in the race but his popularity is far lower.
In her final speech as party chair in Hamburg, Angela Merkel said the CDU conference gave the party an opportunity to prepare itself for “the time after me”, a reference to the time when she steps down as Chancellor of Germany.
She dwelled on the motto of the party conference “Zusammenführen. Und zusammen führen” (Bring together and lead together), appealing for intra-party solidarity despite the tight race between Kramp-Karrenbauer and Merz.
“Our CDU is a different one than in 2000, and that is good,” said Merkel, who spent 18 years at the helm of Germany’s largest right-wing party, as cited by DW.
She urged the party delegates to look forward to the future, rather than live in the past, a hint construed as being directed at Merz who has campaigned in favor of a U-turn towards past traditions.
Merkel’s main farewell address message was that the CDU could prevail even in the face of lower public support as long as it stays united.
She defended her open-door policy which has some 1.6 million migrants from the Middle East arrive in Germany since 2015 by declaring that back then the country had responded to a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“How could it have been different? We’re a family after all,” she said admitting that the migrant policy controversy had caused severe intra-party fighting.
Merkel’s farewell speech was met with a standing ovation for almost 10 minutes.
“In this way, we can lay the groundwork for the future. I wasn’t born chancellor or party chairman. I always wanted to bear my offices with dignity and to give them up with dignity. It was an honor,” the German Chancellor concluded.
(Banner image: CDU on Twitter)