The youth wing of the Christian Democrats in Germany (CDU) has rejected the nomination of their party leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as the party’s candidate to succeed Angela Merkel at the Chancellery.

There were only 277 votes cast, with more than half want voting to reopen the question of who leads the party in the next elections.

The vote is a major blow to Merkel’s remaining authority over the party, not to mention Kram-Karrenbauer’s legitimacy. The party youth is reopening a debate that was considered closed following the party’s primaries in December 2018.

The party conference in November in Saarbruecken may potentially disrupt the handover to Merkel’s preferred successor. Defence minister and CDU chairwoman Kramp-Karrenbauer has done much to undermine her own position, including poking fun at trans-gender people during a carnival speech.

The reopening of the subjects finds the ruling coalition at a critical point, with the Social Democrats (SPD) being under pressure from the left-wing of the party to abandon the government to rebuild the party’s profile.

Polls suggest the CDU remains the leading political force, followed by the Greens and the Alternative for Germany (AfD), while the Social Democrats are in the fourth place.