Merkel’s preferred successor says she will not seek post before 2021

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s preferred successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said on Sunday that she would not seek the top job before Merkel’s term ends in 2021.

The woman usually dubbed “AKK” took over from Merkel as head of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) last December, while the chancellor said she wants to serve out her 2017-2021 term.

“The chancellor and the government were elected for an entire legislative term and the citizens rightly expect them to take seriously the commitment that came with the election,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer.

“So I can rule out the possibility that I will work deliberately to seek a change earlier,” she told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Rather, the CDU should work on a new policy platform and nominate its chancellor-candidate in the late autumn of 2020, she said.

German media have been speculating for months over whether Germany’s veteran leader Merkel may leave earlier as head of her left-right coalition government.

Under one scenario, her junior partners the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) could quit the “grand coalition” if they receive further election setbacks.

Upcoming electoral tests are the European elections this month and three state polls in Germany’s ex-communist east later in the year.

In all those elections, the far-right and anti-immigration AfD could make further gains at the expense of the mainstream CDU and SPD parties.