UPDATE 1-Merkel’s allies leave German parliament to allow Tories to rebuild

(Add leader’s comments on the debt brake)

BERLIN, October 9 (Reuters) – Two of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s closest political allies and most German ministers will leave the German parliament to make way for a new generation who can rejuvenate their Conservative party after its electoral defeat, said they stated.

The move by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer comes amid growing infighting within the conservative camp after Armin Laschet, another close ally of Merkel , led him to defeat last month.

Saturday’s announcement was made by Tobias Hans, leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) in Saarland – the home region of Altmaier and Kramp-Karrenbauer, who joined the other two in saying that the party had to win back the young people.

Hans said the party should abandon totemic commitments like the constitutionally sanctioned public debt ceiling, often blamed for slow investment in Germany’s infrastructure.

“We need to develop the debt brake into a generational budget pact, a generational fair budget,” he said.

Many activists blame a disconnected leadership for insisting that the 60-year-old Laschet be given priority over candidates they believe would have done better, like Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder, and for losing the youth vote in favor of the liberal FDP and the Greens.

This week the two small parties said https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/german-greens-say-want-pursue-coalition-talks-with-spd-fdp-2021-10-06 that they would open talks with the first Social Democrats on forming a government, making it likely that the Tories will soon be in power for the first time since Merkel became Chancellor 16 years ago.

While some, especially in the pro-business FDP, might prefer a mathematically possible three-way coalition with the Tories, the growing chaos within the CDU makes this less and less likely.

“The CDU must prepare for the future,” tweeted Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was briefly and unsuccessfully Merkel’s hand-picked successor as party leader. “Peter Altmaier and I want to help by withdrawing from the Bundestag.”

Both remain in their posts until a new government is formed or they are otherwise replaced.

“We must do everything possible to win back this young generation,” said Altmaier, who for many years headed Merkel’s office.

Laschet this week offered https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/german-social-democrats-upbeat-about-three-way-coalition-talks-2021-10-07 a party congress to discuss the how the party should be reformed after its defeat. (Report by Thomas Escritt and Andreas Rinke edited by Helen Popper, William Maclean)

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