January 23, 2020

Merkel Party Chief Says Succession Team to Be Decided This Year
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The chief of Germany’s Christian Democrats aims to assemble her team to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel by the end of this year, a move to assert her authority amid growing leadership uncertainty in Europe’s largest nation.Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who as CDU leader is Merkel’s presumptive heir, signaled in an interview on Thursday that she opposes a call by a key Bavarian ally for a cabinet reshuffle by the summer.“For 2021, the CDU needs a new team for the future, with new faces, and we’ll put that in place this year,” Kramp-Karrenbauer, 57, told Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “For me, that’s a more important perspective than a short-term change.”Ever since Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU at the end of 2018, the ruling coalition has been plagued by infighting as potential contenders jockey for positions to succeed her and Germany’s export-driven economy runs out of steam.Kramp-Karrenbauer herself has struggled to gain traction, garnering less than half the approval ratings of Merkel, who remains the country’s most popular politician.Read More:If Merkel Wants to Fix the German Economy, She Needs to Hurry UpMerkel Party Leader’s Ultimatum Contains Rebels, For NowMerkel Fends Off Another Hustle From Upstart Tipped for Her JobGermany Would Contribute to Any Libya Peace Force, CDU Head SaysAKK, as she’s known, will have to reinforce her position within the CDU if she wants to become the party’s candidate for the chancellorship in the next election, due in 2021 at the latest. Merkel has said she won’t run for a fifth term.Even after she fended off a leadership challenge in the CDU late last year, Kramp-Karrenbauer remains under scrutiny from the party’s conservative and business wings.One rival who has emerged is Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder, the chairman of the CDU’s sister party, the Christian Social Union. He made the call for Merkel to reshuffle the cabinet, an objective he hopes to deliver by the summer.While AKK initially said the idea could be discussed, on Thursday she pushed back on the proposal.“First we have to ensure that this government that we have now works as well and dynamically as possible. There’s room for improvement, we can do even better.”InvestmentsSuch improvements include streamlining investments and cutting red tape, she said.“The problem is that we are too slow and too complicated in the process. Not enough is invested as a result, and this is the construction site we need to work on,” she said.Germany’s economy expanded at 0.6% in 2019, its weakest growth in 6 years. But the government continues to generate large budget surpluses, prompting renewed calls for even larger spending growth and tax breaks. AKK said such surplus cash should be invested “sensibly” in infrastructure and the military.“If we look at our budget and our investment right now, we see that we have no problem with money,” she said. Surpluses “shouldn’t be tucked away for a rainy day,” but instead directed toward “investment in technologies of the future, in our infrastructure,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.(Updates with quotes, context, detail throughout)To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Chad Thomas in Davos, Switzerland at cthomas16@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond Colitt, Andrew BlackmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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