Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s likely successor, is to become defense minister. The Merkel-ally has struggled to connect with the public since taking over as head of the Christian Democrats (CDU) last year.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is set to be sworn in as Germany’s new defense minister on Wednesday following Ursula von der Leyen’s departure from the post to start her term as EU Commission President.
Thomas Strobl, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s deputy in the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the DPA news agency late on Tuesday that the CDU head would become defense minister.
The move is a surprise, as many had expected Health Minister Jens Spahn to become defense chief. It was doubly surprisingly because Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known by her initials AKK, had previously said she would forgo a ministerial post in favor of concentrating on party leadership.
Kramp-Karrenbauer won a hotly contested leadership vote in December to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel as CDU leader. However, since then, she has failed to connect with voters and many see her as out of touch and stiff, and lacking in the chancellor’s political savvy.
A former leader of the state of Saarland, Kramp-Karrenbauer is well versed in domestic issues. She was also the first woman to serve as the state’s interior minister.
The defense ministry could give her experience in security and military matters that could prove useful when Germany holds elections in 2021.
The announcement came just hours after Merkel promised, in the wake of von der Leyen’s election to the EU post, that she would decide “very quickly” on her successor.
“There will be a fast replacement. The Defense Ministry, the defense minister, holds command and authority. You cannot leave that open long. So it will not take long and you will be informed,” Merkel had told the press.