German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s heir apparent on Monday shook up German politics by declaring she would step down as the governing party’s leader and not run for chancellor, fueling uncertainty in the country seen as Europe’s anchor of stability amid Brexit and pressure from the far right.
German Minister of Defense and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chairwoman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, whose flagging support dropped further after regional CDU lawmakers ignored the party’s instructions, told senior CDU members she would not seek the chancellorship in next year’s election.
The decision upended Merkel’s plan to hand Kramp-Karrenbauer the reins after leading Germany for more than 15 years.
“I took note of this decision with the utmost respect, but I also say that I regret it,” Merkel told reporters, thanking Kramp-Karrenbauer for her work and for agreeing to stay on until a new party leader is chosen.
The announcement followed days of in-fighting within the party over the election of a governor in the state of Thuringia.
CDU legislators there voted with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party last week to oust a left-wing incumbent.
The CDU representatives not only defied Kramp-Karrenbauer’s advance appeals and undermined her leadership, but broke what is widely regarded as a taboo in post-war German politics around cooperating with extremist parties.
“The AfD stands against everything we as the CDU represent,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters in Berlin on Monday.
Manfred Weber, a German member of the EU parliament who leads a center-right bloc in the EU legislature, told daily newspaper Welt that the situation in Thuringia reflected a Europe that “is in a phase of growing instability; politics is becoming more serious.”
“In general. it is a sign of growing instability among the parties of the middle all across Europe. The parties of the middle must draw their red line to those with radical right tendencies,” Weber said.
“This approach from Kramp-Karrenbauer was and is correct,” he added.
Merkel has said she will not run for a fifth term in Germany’s next general election, which is now scheduled for fall 2021, but any shift to the right by the Christian Democrats could trigger a breakup of Merkel’s federal coalition with the center-left Social Democrats and increase the chances of an early national election.
After announcing her planned withdrawal, Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “If it’s up to me, it won’t have any effect on the stability of the grand coalition.”
Florian Hense, an analyst at Hamburg-based private bank Berenberg, said the Social Democrats “would have little to gain from provoking early elections.”
However, leading figures in Merkel’s party expressed concerns about fallout from the announcement.
German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, a close Merkel ally, said that the Christian Democrats were in “an unusually serious situation.”
Recent polls had Merkel’s conservative block at about 28 percent support nationally, followed by the left-leaning Greens at about 22 percent. The Social Democrats are struggling with only about 14 percent support, about the same as the AfD.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming