A close ally of Angela Merkel and a one-time rival are considered favourites for the job to lead the centre-right Christian Democratic Union as the German Chancellor’s party meet today (Friday) to elect a new leader who could help shape Germany’s political direction for the next generation.

Merkel announced in October she would give up the reins in her party, though she plans to serve her current term as chancellor. Three high-profile contenders have toured Germany to drum up support.

Friday’s vote pits CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel ally against Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the party’s parliamentary group who stands for a more conservative approach and has been away from front-line politics for a decade.

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