Merkel to tap rumored successor for top party role

Merkel and Peter Altmaier

Head of Merkel's conservative CDU to step down: party sources

Members of Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party have started voting on whether to accept the coalition agreement negotiated by their leaders with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc on forming a new government.

The hard-fought coalition deal struck with Social Democrats must still be approved by the SPD's 460,000 members. Kevin Kuehnert, who leads the SPD's influential youth wing and draws inspiration from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is campaigning against any further coalition with the CDU and Mrs Merkel.

Merkel herself has been badly weakened by her lengthy struggles to form a new government and media is openly speculating that she may not complete a full fourth term as chancellor even if the SPD rank-and-file give the thumbs up.

He stepped down as SPD chief last week, just days after he clinched the coalition agreement with Merkel that has divided the centre-left party. "She can win elections and in politics there is only one currency that counts: winning elections".

The SPD's leaders want the coalition to go ahead, but there is also strong opposition within the party grassroots.

The survey which was conducted by a regional German newspaper revealed that 66 percent of SPD supporters are happy with a coalition government while only 30 percent would prefer a new election. "I expect an intense debate here", Nahles told Reuters TV before a meeting with party members in Kamen, near Dortmund in western Germany.

Bild's article highlights a debate now bubbling in Germany concerning the risks around the SPD's membership approval vote. She added that the party would look into legal steps if there had been deception over a party member's identity.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the minister-president of Saarland, is slated to take over from Peter Tauber, who resigned Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has heeded calls from within her party for her to groom a successor.

Sometimes dubbed "mini Merkel" by German media, Kramp-Karrenbauer is highly regarded in her party for winning an election in her region a year ago that buoyed the CDU's national standing ahead of the September 24 federal vote.

Almost five months after the national election, Germany is still without a federal government as the SPD consults its members before embarking on a re-run of their "grand coalition" with Merkel's conservative bloc.

She has been on the short list of party grandees considered to eventually replace Dr Merkel. By appointing one of her closest confidantes to a top CDU role, Merkel is also responding to critics who have been calling for fresh faces to reinvigorate the party after the disappointing September election.

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