The Latest: Merkel ally elected leader of chancellor's party
HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — The Latest on the election of a successor to Angela Merkel as Christian Democratic Union party leader (all times local):
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.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party is holding a runoff vote to choose its new leader after no candidate won a majority in the first round of voting.
The new leader of the Christian Democratic Union was being chosen by 1,001 delegates at a party congress Friday in Hamburg. Candidates needed 50 percent of the vote to win.
CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel ally, won 450 votes in the first round. Friedrich Merz, a one-time Merkel rival who was once the party's parliamentary leader, took 392 votes.
Health Secretary Jens Spahn, a sometime Merkel critic who was the outsider, was eliminated with 157 votes.
The favorites to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of her center-right party have made their pitches for the job in speeches that showcased their contrasting styles.
Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Christian Democratic Union's general secretary and previously a popular state governor, made much Friday of her 18 years of experience in regional government. She said she has learned that leadership "is more about internal strength then external volume."
Friedrich Merz, a one-time Merkel rival and former leader of the party's parliamentary group, highlighted the need to tackle the "intolerable" success of the far-right Alternative for Germany and called for a more combative approach to the CDU's rivals in the political center.
Merz, who advocates a more conservative approach than Merkel, said that "without clear positions we won't get better election results."
Chancellor Angela Merkel has celebrated her 18 years at the helm of Germany's main center-right party in her final speech as leader, urging members to show unity as it opens a new chapter.
In a speech Friday before the Christian Democratic Union elects a new leader, Merkel recalled that she took office in 2000 when the party was in a deep crisis. She said that "we kept a cool head" and "we showed everyone" by recovering.
Merkel told a party congress in Hamburg that "our CDU today is different from the year 2000, and that is a good thing." She said the party must not look to the past but the future.
Her half-hour speech was greeted with a several-minute standing ovation. Some delegates held up placards saying "Thank you, boss!"
Chancellor Angela Merkel's party is meeting to elect a new leader who could help shape Germany's political direction for the next generation.
A close ally of Merkel's and a one-time rival are considered favorites for the job to lead the center-right Christian Democratic Union.
Merkel announced in October she would give up the reins in her party, though she plans to serve her current term as chancellor.
Three high-profile contenders have toured Germany to drum up support.
Friday's vote pits CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel ally, against Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the party's parliamentary group who stands for a more conservative approach and has been away from front-line politics for a decade.
Health Minister Jens Spahn, another Merkel critic, is considered the outsider.