AKK to resign: what direction will CDU take now?

After the shock political development in Thuringia, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Monday that she will step down as CDU leader and not seek to be chancellor candidate in the next general election. She said she could not accept cooperation with either the AfD or the Left Party. Europe's press discusses what direction the CDU will now take - and what a post-Merkel power vacuum could mean.

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Berlingske (DK) /

AfD not about to disappear

Berlingske notes that personnel changes in the CDU/CSU won't make the question of whether the party should collaborate with the AfD go away:

“Of course, the AfD in its current form is unpalatable as a government partner or as parliamentary support for a minority government. This applies especially for Thuringia, where the party, led by Björn Höcke, is flirting with the Nazi past. ... The real question, however, is whether one should not accept that the AfD has become an established East German party whose right to be present in parliament must now be acknowledged. Despite the opposition of local Christian Democrats, Merkel and the SPD are calling for new elections in Thuringia. ... But as long as Merkel and her party seek to counter the AfD with moral reproaches rather than by fighting the causes and adopting concrete policies against them, AKK won't be the AfD's last conservative scalp.”

Polityka (PL) /

A chance for the Christian Democrats

The resignation is not necessarily a bad thing for the CDU, Polityka puts in:

“It quickly became clear that although AKK has much in common with Merkel, she has neither the chancellor's negotiating skills nor her political cunning. AKK's resignation is indeed a chance for the Christian Democrats to find a new position. It's not yet clear who will replace Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, but the new boss (almost certainly a man) must save the CDU from disintegration and decide which strategy to adopt against the AfD, which is particularly strong in the east - complete marginalisation or limited cooperation?”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

CDU could veer to the right

The CDU/CSU is at a crossroads, De Volkskrant surmises:

“For many CDU supporters [in East Germany], the success of the right-wing nationalist AfD is a direct result of Angela Merkel's policies. And they see cooperation with the AfD as a good opportunity to restore the party's conservative profile. ... The CDU is back to exactly where it was at the 2018 party conference, namely a crossroads: either it goes straight on or it veers sharply to the right. ... Kramp-Karrenbauer repeated on Monday that the CDU is not open to cooperation with the AfD. But whether and for how long this firewall will remain standing depends primarily on her successor.”

El Mundo (ES) /

An earthquake that could destabilise all Europe

El Mundo fears that the political crisis triggered by AKK's resignation could spread beyond Germany's borders:

“The decision has torpedoed Merkel's sophisticated road map for the continuity of her political project. And the unity of the conservatives is collapsing on every possible front since they broke the quarantine line they had put up against the far right in Thuringia. But the most serious outcome would undoubtedly be if this political earthquake were to spread across Europe. This serious crisis of leadership in the country that has done the most to defend the EU's values against the spread of Europhobia could translate into an instability that would do nothing for the European project.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

German politics now completely unpredictable

Dnevnik also believes that AKK's resignation will send shock waves across Europe:

“Kramp-Karrenbauer's stepping down confirms that since the middle of last week political developments in Germany have developed a dynamic of their own, and are now completely unpredictable. This is not just bad for Germany, but also for Europe. It's bad for the European Council, and the Commission, and in general. Angela Merkel is tottering, and her fall (which the AfD has declared as its next short-term goal) will be wind in the sails of national populist parties across Europe.”