Munich, Germany, Dec 10, 2018 / 08:30 am (CNA).- Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was named the new leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at a special party conference December 7.
A practicing Catholic, Kramp-Karrenbauer – known as AKK in the German press – was seen as the preferred choice of German chancellor and outgoing CDU leader Angela Merkel.
A married mother of three, Kramp-Karrenbauer previously served as secretary general of the party and minister-president of the western German region of Saarland. She defeated Friedrich Merz, a former member of the European Parliament and Bundestag, winning a run-off ballot with 517 of 1,001 potential votes.
As head of the CDU, Kramp-Karrenbauer is now widely regarded as a possible chancellor-in-waiting behind Merkel, who has said she will step down at the end of her current term in 2021.
Broadly seen as economically liberal, many political commentators have dubbed Kramp-Karrenbauer “mini-Merkel” and she is widely considered to be a continuity candidate with the current chancellor, who led the party from 2000-2018.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is known for her traditional social views, and has previously drawn attention for her outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage and gay adoption. As head of the Saarland region, she warned that same-sex marriage could create a legal precedent for recognizing incesuous and polygamous unions.
“If we open up this definition [of marriage] to become a long-term responsible partnership between two adults, then other demands can’t be ruled out, such as a marriage between close relatives or between more than two people,” she argued in 2015.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Germany in 2017.
While often characterized as a “staunch” or “devout” Catholic, Kramp-Karrenbauer has been a vocal supporter of female ordination in the Church. Earlier this year, she told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit that “It is very clear: women have to take positions of leadership in the Church,” eventually including women-priests but beginning with the “more realistic goal” of a female diaconate.
As the largest economy in the European Union, Germany politics plays a crucial role in the direction of the continent, with the German chancellor functioning as a de facto leader for the union. As Merkel’s acknowledged preferred successor, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s views on a range of policy issues will be scrutinized by leaders across the EU.
On the politically sensitive topic of mass-migration to the Europe, Merkel’s open-door policy to migrants in 2015 was widely seen as out of step with broader European policy, making Germany a beacon nation for refugees and economic migrants alike, and putting pressure on neighbouring countries.
Kramp-Karrenbauer has called for a more forward-looking debate on the subject of immigration and mass-migration.
In November, she told German television station NTV that she did not want to see a “backward-looking discussion” or “eternal debate about what was done right or wrong in the autumn of 2015.” Instead, she said, she wanted to see an “honest” discussion about the current effects of years of migration “uncontrolled and without integration.”