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Aiming to reset her party, Angela Merkel's protege gets its name wrong

BERLIN: The new leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democrats, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, bungled her welcome to birthday celebration participants assembly to speak about immigration policy through calling them "Social Democrats" — the title of their coalition companions.

Kramp-Karrenbauer took over from Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December, campaigning on a centrist platform that put her nearer to the Social Democrats than to the right-wing competitors she defeated.

Opening the immigration policy assembly on Sunday, Kramp-Karrenbauer said she was once pleased to be joined through participants of the CDU's Bavarian sister birthday celebration, the Christian Social Union (CSU) - only she confused her own birthday celebration with the Social Democrats.

"I am particularly pleased that we are not only doing this here as Social Democrats tonight, but that we are doing this together with friends from the CSU," she said to embarrassed laughter from CDU participants, including cupboard ministers.

She immediately corrected herself and tried to explain her slip as "something to do with the Social Democrats dealing with a big trauma in their party" over reform of the Hartz IV labour marketplace reforms they presented from 2005.

German media jumped on the slip-up - the tabloid Bild called it an "embarrassing mishap" - and the SPD poked a laugh at Kramp-Karrenbauer, dubbed AKK after her initials, through advising her on the Social Democrats' usual greeting to each other.

"Dear @akk," tweeted SPD Secretary General Lars Klingbeil. "Small tip for the future: It is 'Dear comrades!' Greetings in solidarity."

The conservative alliance of CDU and CSU only teamed up with the SPD to renew their "grand coalition" closing 12 months after their talks with two smaller events on forming an alliance collapsed.

Kramp-Karrenbauer's election as CDU leader put her in pole place to transform Germany's next chancellor and she or he is trying to place her own stamp on the birthday celebration. Merkel has said she is not going to seek re-election after this parliamentary time period, finishing in 2021.

The CDU meets once more on Monday to speak about how one can keep away from a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis that noticed more than 1 million asylum seekers flood into Germany after Merkel determined to go away open the country's borders. They are assembly without Merkel.

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