(HAMBURG, Germany) — Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, an ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been elected as the new leader of Merkel’s center-right party.
Kramp-Karrenbauer narrowly defeated Friedrich Merz, a one-time Merkel rival, at a congress of the Christian Democratic Union in Hamburg on Friday. She won 517 votes to Merz’s 482 in a run-off. A third candidate, Health Minister Jens Spahn, was eliminated in a first round of voting.
The 56-year-old Kramp-Karrenbauer has been the CDU’s general secretary, in charge of day-to-day political strategy, since February. She was previously a popular governor of western Saarland state.
She now inherits the task of improving the CDU’s political fortunes and trying to win back voters from rivals to the right and left, while working with Merkel as chancellor until Germany’s next election.