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Report: German businessman to oppose Merkel as party leader

October 3, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, front 3rd left, looks up as she arrives for an ecumenical mass at the Berlin cathedral during the Unification Day public festival in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) — A German businessman reportedly plans a long-shot challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the country’s main conservative party.

Andreas Ritzenhoff, the owner of a company that makes aluminum products, told the Funke newspaper group Wednesday that the Christian Democratic Union needs “new political aims” and a “change of direction.”

Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005 and CDU leader since 2000, has indicated she will likely seek a new two-year term at the party’s helm at a congress in December.

Her authority has been weakened recently by constant squabbling in her fourth-term government and the ouster last week of a close ally as the conservatives’ parliamentary leader.

However, there’s no sign of any heavyweight challenger. Alongside Ritzenhoff, law student Jan-Philipp Knoop has said he plans to challenge Merkel.

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