KIt was three years ago that Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s rise seemed unstoppable. First, the Saarland Prime Minister reached out to the CDU General Secretariat, then she won the battle for party leadership. The next goal: Chancellery.
In the summer of 2019, she had the opportunity to take over the Ministry of Defense. On a sunny day, a memorable picture was taken in Bellevue Palace: Chancellor Angela Merkel, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Kramp-Karrenbauer on their way to the top. Three strong women for Germany.
Today, a year and a half later, those images have faded. After defeats and humiliation in the fight for the Chancellery, the descent of Kramp-Karrenbauer now seems unstoppable. She was Prime Minister and CDU Chairwoman. The eternal Angela Merkel did not pay any tribute to her former crown princess at the party conference.
The Ministry of Defense, the apparent stopover, is all that is left to her. What is she doing there? And above all: Does Kramp-Karrenbauer want to stay, or will she stick to the former SPD chairman Andrea Nahles, who now earns her living in a subordinate federal institution of the Ministry of Finance? In Berlin the suspicion had circulated that Kramp-Karrenbauer could also give up her ministerial office during the CDU party congress. But she didn’t.
Is AKK already setting the course for the future?
On the contrary. In the middle of last week, Kramp-Karrenbauer presented her plans for the coming months, but also for 2022, to the Defense Committee. It was noticed that the minister seems to be planning beyond election day. On Monday, the Ministry of Defense sent a four-line message that also drew attention. It was about Russia. The quote from the ministers was against the arrest of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalnyj. Kramp-Karrenbauer accused the Russian leadership of cynicism and demanded that “those responsible” for the poison attack on Navalnyj should be “brought to justice”. That was unusually clear and a very foreign policy statement for a defense minister. In any case, Kramp-Karrenbauer still seems to have something planned. As Minister of Defense, she is also a security politician and the holder of command and control over the armed forces.
If one follows the widespread view that the decline and the material drainage of the Bundeswehr are also a legacy of Merkel’s chancellorship, Kramp-Karrenbauer could do all sorts of things here, for the Bundeswehr, but also for their party. Because there is a lot of disappointment in the armed forces about the Union and some sympathy for the right-wing populists, even among senior officer circles.
It is often heard that the Bundeswehr has had good experiences with the coincidental minister from Saarland. It is said that she is “well received by the troops”. Most of the time it is emphasized: “Unlike her predecessor von der Leyen.” In fact, Kramp-Karrenbauer finds it easier to access NCOs and men.