Angela Merkel protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer - dubbed Mini-Merkel - wins race to replace her as party leader

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has won the three-person race to replace Angela Merkel as the head of Germany's largest political party.

She was confirmed as the successor to Mrs Merkel, who plans to stand down from her separate role as chancellor in 2021, at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party conference in Hamburg on Friday.

She won 517 of the 999 votes cast to see off the challenge of Friedrich Merz, who won 482 votes.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle's Political Correspondent Kate Brady gave ITV News the lowdown on the new leader dubbed 'mini Merkel'.

And she explained why the outgoing chancellor may be forced to make way from her role earlier than planned.

Who is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer?

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had been the the front-runner. Credit: AP

Kramp-Karrenbauer - also known as AKK - was the front-runner in the three candidate race for party chairperson, whose centrist views had earned her the nickname 'Mini Merkel'.

Kate Brady told ITV News although she was the candidate "most like Merkel", "she is a little more conservative, having questioned things like marriage equality in previous years".

She added: "In recent weeks she has tried to distance herself from the 'mini Merkel' label, which she was given because their policies are very similar, choosing to focus on social policy."

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had attempted to distance herself from her mentor. Credit: AP

Merkel's protege has become the second female leader elected in the history of the party.

She has served very successfully as the former prime minister for the state of Saarland.

However, Brady said her leadership could prove too safe for Germany as many are leaning towards the political right in a shake-up from Mrs Merkel after she departs.

Who did she beat in the three-person race?

The three most popular candidates may be running a two-person race. Credit: AP

Kramp-Karrenbauer defeated veteran Merz and rising outsider Jens Spahn.

Merz bitterly departed politics in the early 2000s after he was ousted by Mrs Merkel but was out to "get his revenge", Brady told ITV News.

Friedrich Merz attempted to make his comeback after he left politics in the early 2000s. Credit: AP

He secured backing by political heavyweight former CDU leader Wolfgang Schäuble and caught the attention of many conservative voters as he attempted to move the party closer to the right.

Brady dubbed him the candidate out to "cause the most trouble" whose victory could have forced Germany's main parties to re-align their policies.

Health Minister Spahn, the youngest of the candidates at 38, only served at his role for less than a year but has been a vocal critic of Chancellor Merkel.

Health Minister Jens Spahn is the youngest candidate at 38 and has been ruled out by many. Credit: AP

He pushed the focus away from immigration talk to discuss health, pension and education which are important issues in Germany at the moment as reforms take place.

Brady said his "age and ambition" had drawn comparisons with French President Emmanuel Macron and a young David Cameron and said he was one to watch for the future.

"Maybe 10 years down the line he could be leader," she said.

Why could Merkel go sooner than planned?

Angela Merkel announced she would not run again as party leader but will still hold on as Chancellor until 2021. Credit: AP

Although Mrs Merkel isn't officially standing down from her role as chancellor until 2021, Brady told ITV News whoever had won the race to succeed her could cause a snap election and put the coalition government into question.

She said Kramp-Karrenbauer will intend to move the party away from Merkel's era and is on track to be the next candidate for chancellor.

"It (had been) a very interesting move by Merkel who (had) said the role of leader and Chancellor have gone hand in hand," she said.

So while Kramp-Karrenbauer replaces Merkel as party leader, her place as Germany's next leader is still not assured.