Once Merkel's protege, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer steps down as Germany's CDU party leader in wake of political outrage over cooperation with far-right AfD
On February 10, 2020, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (known colloquially as AKK) announced her intention to resign from her post as head of Germany's Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), stating that she will no longer run for the chancellorship.
Once seen as a shoe-in to succeed Angela Merkel as Germay's head of government, AKK's decision to step down came as a surprise to many. Her decision was sparked by a major political crisis in the federal state of Thuringia, where the state branch of the CDU teamed up with the liberal party (FDP) and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to elect FDP's Thomas Kemmerich as Minister-President. National party members and constituents were outraged at the moderate party's willingness cooperate and power-share with AFD, a party infamous for its extreme Islamophobic rhetoric and trivialization of Germany's Holocaust history. The move directly violated the CDU's stated policy that it would never cooperate with AfD.
Though FDP's Kemmerich resigned in the wake of the scandal, CDU's “breach of taboo” in partnering with AfD has spurred protests throughout the country and was seen by many as a major failure on the part of AKK, who did not succeed in establishing party consensus. AKK has struggled through a series of political scandals in recent years, and the Thuringia fiasco was seen as the last straw for her prospects as a national leader. She will continue on in her role as Minister of Defense.