Merkel made a decision to leave the CDU leadership after opinion polls, and a pair of disappointing regional elections this autumn, showed that the party's popularity had hit new lows and calls for her resignation increased. She received 517 out of 999 votes from the CDU delegates, while her closest rival, Friedrich Merz, got 482. Kramp-Karrenbauer, the CDU general secretary since February and previously a popular state governor, is now the favorite to run for chancellor in that vote.
Kramp-Karrenbauer offered her fellow candidates, Merz and Jens Spahn, a role in running the CDU, extending a hand following the hotly contested race to succeed Merkel.
AKK, who has also been referred to as "Mini Merkel" and a loyal follower of the current chancellor, is now expected to face an uphill battle as CDU leader.
Three main candidates to replace her have toured Germany and spoken to party members at eight regional conferences in recent weeks.
The newly elected CDU head has previously opposed the idea of withdrawing support from the Nord Stream 2 project entirely, but suggested reducing the amount of gas obtained via the route from Russian Federation as a response to the recent Kerch incident involving Ukrainian naval ships.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said farewell to 18 years as leader of the Christian Democratic Union with a speech and a standing ovation at the party's convention in Hamburg today.
While Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, is viewed as similar to Merkel with an even temper and middle-of-the-road policies, Merz, 63, has become the torchbearer for those seeking a more decisive break from the chancellor.
Jens Spahn, Germany's 38-year-old health minister, has repeatedly spoken out against Merkel's open-door migration policy which resulted in the arrival of almost a million refugees. She has moved her party relentlessly to the centre, dropping military conscription, accelerating Germany's exit from nuclear energy and introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children.
"What is close to my heart is that in the last parliamentary term of my political career, I'll be able to make a contribution that allows the renewed success of the CDU while maintaining our interests in matters of state", Merkel told delegates.
In humiliation for Trump, satellite images show North Korea expanding missile base
But Lewis and Schmerler said that in recent years North Korea had significantly expanded what appeared to be another missile base in Hoejung-ni.
The 64-year old Merkel told CDU delegates in Hamburg she gave thanks the chance to serve.
For years, Merkel's popularity lifted the CDU and its Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.
"We must have the courage to stay the course against the Zeitgeist", she said.
She now inherits the task of improving the CDU's political fortunes and trying to win back voters from rivals to the right and left, while working with Merkel as chancellor until Germany's next election.
Polling at around 30% - down from the 41.5% with which they won the 2013 vote - the party have lost votes to both the far-right Alternative for Germany and the liberal Green Party.
Merkel has been CDU leader since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.
"There's a desire for more inclusion and self-confidence in the party", she has said. "But. we faced an hour of destiny for the Christian Democratic Union 18 years ago". 'I have always wanted to do my government and party jobs with dignity, and one day to leave them with dignity'.
Peter Altmaier, Merkel's economy minister and ally, said he was "surprised and astonished" at Schaeuble's nod to Merz - and returned the favor by endorsing AKK.