Berlin (AP) - It's as if the congress holds its breath. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer just talked for an hour and 25 minutes, almost always free, often passionate, sometimes with lengths.

The much-criticized party leader has just received a rousing applause when she summons the team spirit of the CDU. Almost as quiet as a mouse it is in the exhibition hall in Leipzig, as AKK then continues. She needs two minutes to ask the question of power at the end. For seven minutes the delegates give the answer, they applaud while standing. For the time being, Kramp-Karrenbauer has won. Now she has to deliver.

But from the beginning. Grundrente, digitization, artificial intelligence, business 4.0, education, children, reducing bureaucracy and again and again: "I want ..." For well over an hour Kramp-Karrenbauer leaves after the months of tormenting personnel debate no doubt about their power and leadership claim.

She designs her vision for a Germany 2030 - many in the party had previously hoped for such a speech. If in the past few weeks there was a question of who could be Chancellor - even party friends who actually support them, the name Kramp-Karrenbauer did not get on the subject.

The past year was difficult, not everything was successful, admits the chair self-critical. And quickly switches back to combat mode: "No successful campaign strategy," she calls it, if you lead the government for 14 years and then say it's all wrong and bad. Everyone in the room understands: This goes against Friedrich Merz and his crushing verdict that the government is doing "grotesquely poor" work. There is great applause.

After one hour and 24 minutes, Kramp-Karrenbauer starts the furious finale. There are sentences that the CDU has never experienced in its history, neither under Merkel, nor under Kohl or Adenauer.

"I have told you what the way is, which I propose. I'm not kidding you. "AKK sounds haunting, calm and deliberate as she says the crucial phrases in the hall. The way will not always be easy, maybe there will be setbacks. Then she puts the power question in short sentences. "If you think that this path I would like to go with you is not the path that you think is the right one, then let's say it today. And then let's end it today. Here and now and today. »

Kramp-Karrenbauer pushes into the silence of the surprised delegates: "But if you have the same desire for design and responsibility as I have, then let us roll up our sleeves here and now and today. Many thanks."

Applause breaks. For seven minutes, the delegates applaud their chairwoman standing up. The Saarlander seems solved. Stirred, she bows, repeatedly bringing her right hand to her breast, as if to make it clear: My commitment to the Party comes from the heart.

Several times Kramp-Karrenbauer had asked her critics to show their colors in Leipzig - and to ask the leadership question. Now she is the one who does that. AKK is party people with every fiber, known for putting everything on a card if necessary. It will be clear: Such a question of power probably works only once. If the polls do not get better and the next elections are lost, the CDU is unlikely to shy away from power.

It is Friedrich Merz who signals that the leadership and chancellor question is by no means decided - albeit somewhat clerical. He has announced a groundbreaking speech. Already in the past few days he must have realized that he has covered with his frontal attack against the government of his favorite opponent Angela Merkel, even in the opinion of friends.

As the ex-union leader at 10.30 clock in the ranks of the North Rhine-Westphalia delegates in the Sauerland takes place, he seems a bit nervous - even if Merz tries not to show it. Surrounded by cameras, he sits there, putting on the reading glasses and studying the newfangled small voting computer in front of him. He smiles at the photographer, but after a few minutes Merz gets too much. "It would be nice if journalists' main focus were on the party leader. What do you think of that, "he says.

Later, Merz talks to the delegates at the number six speaker post by Kramp-Karrenbauer. First, he affirms to "dear Annegret" that she has "held a courageous and courageous and forward-looking speech". He was grateful to the party leader "in her capacity as defense minister" that she had had the courage to make initial suggestions on how Germany would fulfill its new responsibilities in the world.

Johlen harvests Merz when he tells Greta Thunberg about her complaint that current politics have robbed her of her youth: "You have had the best youth in the generation" that ever existed.

Then comes the passage in the Merz speech, which can be understood ambiguously. In order for the next generation and the generation after that to have such opportunities, much has to be changed today. "A lot is expected of this congress in the media," Merz calls. And obviously with regard to the chancellor candidate: "No, not this party will make the final decision. But in a year, after another process of reflection, decision-making, preparing for this party congress then in 2020, which must give these crucial answers.

This process must be connected with credible people. The party must set itself up, assume responsibility and show leadership, Merz demands. Is that a hidden threat?

Then comes an unmistakable broadside against the chairman: One can not talk about the cohesion of society, if one excludes one or the other or even entire groups in the party, says Merz to applause. As long as they were at the bottom of the CDU program of principles, both the Union of values ​​and the Union of the Middle would have their place in the CDU. Kramp-Karrenbauer had previously seen this differently: "There is only one value union. And that is the CDU Germany. »

CDU for the party congress in Leipzig

Program of the CDU Party Congress in Leipzig

Links to the collection of motions and resolutions of the CDU party congress