The new leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) has outlined plans to change the party’s migrant policies before next year’s European election, signalling she could break with her mentor Angela Merkel’s liberal approach.
The conservative party elected Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to replace Ms Merkel as its leader on Friday, making her frontrunner to become the next chancellor of Germany.
However, the narrow win over the more conservative Friedrich Merz exposed splits in Germany’s biggest party, which she must try to close before next May’s vote for the European Parliament and four state elections in 2019.
One of the deepest divisions is over migrant policy.
“I want to convene a ‘workshop discussion’ on migration and security with experts and critics of migrant and refugee policies to work on concrete improvements,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer told ‘Bild am Sonntag’. “Our programme for the European election will build on these results.”
Ms Merkel’s 2015 open-door approach eroded her popularity and led to losses in regional elections, culminating in her October decision to stand down as party leader. She aims to stay on as chancellor until the next federal vote in 2021.
While Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer was less critical of Ms Merkel’s migrant policy than her rivals in the leadership contest, she has argued that migrants must learn German and those with a criminal record cannot stay. But she has stressed the CDU must not dwell too long on the issue.