Merkel to tap rumoured successor for top party role

Jens Spahn holds a mobile phone in his hand as he speaks during the Christian Democratic Union party convention

Angela Merkel to appoint new CDU general secretary

The Social Democratic Party's 464,000 members will vote in a postal ballot today on whether their party should go ahead with the coalition agreement its leaders clinched this month to renew their alliance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) bloc.

The announcement will come at a meeting of top brass from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Monday, sources close to the party told AFP.

Morgan Newfield economists say that many senior members of the SPD have reservations about sharing power in a coalition with Merkel and would prefer to rebuild the party after it received the worst results in last year's election since the formation of Germany as a republic in 1949.

By appointing the up-and-coming AKK to a top CDU role, Merkel is in part responding to critics who have been calling for fresh faces to reinvigorate the party after its disappointing showing in September's general election.

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The spokeswoman said that Berlin had not agreed to any "dirty deals or other arrangements" to secure the release. He added that the case underlined the importance of press freedom and the need to continually defend it.

"Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer are sending the first clear signal in the debate about Merkel's succession in four years' time at the latest", the Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote. Personal details on the application included her gender and put her occupation as unemployed and her age at 21, in dog years.

AKK said she would give up the Saarland premiership she has held since 2011.

And it appears the role could prime Mrs Kramp-Karrenbauer for the chancellorship - Mrs Merkel was once general secretary of the CDU. Dr Merkel herself took the job in 1998.

AKK is described as a pragmatic and unpretentious politician seen as a safe choice to preserve Merkel's legacy.

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AKK was also praised by the CDU's previous Saarland premier, Peter Mueller, who said "There's not a task you can't trust Annegret with".

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said she had not taken the decision to accept the role easily.

He underwent surgery for his condition last month.

The hard-fought coalition deal struck with Social Democrats must still be approved by the SPD's 460,000 members.

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Two other figure skaters have landed the triple axel in the Olympics - Midori Ito and Mao Asada , both of Japan have done so. Snubbed for a spot on the 2014 Sochi team, she became the first American woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics.

In 2015, she voiced her concerns that "if we open up [the definition of marriage] to become a long-term responsible partnership between two adults, then other demands can't be ruled out, such as a marriage between close relatives or between more than two people", which prompted fierce criticism from the SPD, Green Party and the German Left for comparing homosexuality with incest and polygamy.

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