Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer waves at members of the Christian Democratic Union after her election as the new leader, next to German Chancellor and outgoing CDU leader Angela Merkel.
If their candidate, BlackRock Inc.'s Friedrich Merz, beats Merkel acolyte Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer the chancellor's plans for a final three years in office may be called into question. She announced her decision to stand down as party leader in October. However, it is possible that the next election could come earlier. "But we won national elections together. and I am happy I can remain chancellor".
She stressed that the CDU stood for human dignity, and praised the late US President George Bush Senior and late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for reuniting Germany in 1990.
Ahead of the vote, Merkel looked somewhat exhausted and uncharacteristically stumbled over her words during her 30-minute speech before the vote.
All the same, Merkel, a physicist, was fighting back tears when she gave a final speech as party leader, drawing a almost 10 minute standing ovation.
Convicted asylum seekers should be expelled not just from Germany but Europe's entire Schengen zone, AKK has argued.
Most controversially, Merkel allowed in large numbers of migrants in 2015.
Kramp-Karrenbauer's pitch centred on her own lengthy experience in regional government, which saw her become the first woman to become a German state's interior minister, or top security official, and serve as governor of western Saarland state.
She completed a master's degree in political science before starting her career as a policy officer for CDU Saarland. She has moved her party relentlessly to the center, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and introducing benefits such as encouraging fathers to look after their young children.
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You've got to, you know, put a marker on the game - not only with good tackles, but also with good play. Aggression is a part of football. "There were a lot of situations, challenges".
The Social Democrats (SPD), junior partner in Merkel's ruling coalition, congratulated Kramp-Karrenbauer and offered to work constructively with her.
Merkel, 64, has presided over Europe's most populous country and powerful economy for 13 years.
She also rejected claims that she was a "mini Merkel".
For years, Merkel's popularity lifted the CDU and its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.
Months before the national election where the CDU slumped to its worst result since 1949 winning just 32.9 per cent of the national vote, she managed to secure over 40 percent of the vote in Saarland, marking her out as a victor in a field of losers.
Although Merz vows that he can cooperate with Merkel as chancellor, a CDU under his leadership would hearken back to the party before she emerged - a clearer tax-cutting agenda and a greater focus on security, especially when it comes to migration, as he targets voters lost to the AfD. "We will all miss her", he said.
"We are facing a turning point and need a breakthrough for the next years".
"I hope we emerge from this party conference well-equipped, motivated and united", Merkel said.
Nevertheless, Merkel kept her message simple and straightforward as she has over 18 years as leader of the Christian Democrats.