Germany’s Christian Democrats said a big thank you on Friday (Dec 7) to Angela Merkel, their leader for the past 18 years, with warm words and long applause, and presenting her with a conductor’s baton as they elected her protegee to succeed her.
Merkel, a Lutheran woman who grew up in the former communist East where she moved when she was an infant, has always been something of an outsider in the male-dominated Catholic party.
But her record of winning four elections cannot be denied and was not lost on CDU members.
Waving orange cards with the slogan “Thank you boss”, delegates cheered as Merkel, 64, walked onto the stage at the conference centre in Hamburg, her birthplace, to end an era for the party.
“We have had very successful years with Angela Merkel. She has led us for many years in government and that is the goal of a party,” said Julia Kloeckner, a deputy party leader.
“We need you as Chancellor,” Kloeckner told the conference.
As chancellor of Europe’s biggest economy since 2005, Merkel has been the most influential leader in the European Union through the euro zone and migrant crises. Forbes magazine has repeatedly named her the world’s most powerful woman.