Party leader Merz announces reception to mark Merkel's 70th birthday

Angela Merkel (L), former German Chancellor, and Friedrich Merz, CDU Federal Chairman, greet each other at the opening event of the Chancellor Helmut Kohl Foundation at the Friedrichstadtkirche on Gendarmenmarkt. Christoph Soeder/dpa
Angela Merkel (L), former German Chancellor, and Friedrich Merz, CDU Federal Chairman, greet each other at the opening event of the Chancellor Helmut Kohl Foundation at the Friedrichstadtkirche on Gendarmenmarkt. Christoph Soeder/dpa

The leadership of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) plans to honour former party leader and chancellor Angela Merkel with a reception to mark her 70th birthday.

The art historian Horst Bredekamp will give a lecture at the ceremony at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, CDU leader Friedrich Merz announced at a meeting of his party's executive board in Berlin on Monday.

The ceremony as part of the CDU's "Berlin Talks" series has been agreed with Merkel. The former chancellor turns 70 on July 17.

Merz told dpa afterwards that he had informed the CDU committees that the party "will be celebrating the 70th birthday of our former chairwoman and Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 25."

"We are looking forward to it," Merz said.

Merkel ousted Merz from the chairmanship of the CDU parliamentary group in 2002. Since then, the relationship between the current party and conservative parliamentary group leader and the former chancellor has been severely strained.

As in previous years, Merkel did not accept an invitation to the CDU party conference in May. She is accused by some in the CDU of having distanced herself more and more from her party.

In December, Merkel withdrew from the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Merz is accused by critics in his own ranks of having orientated the CDU more conservatively than under Merkel. The fact that the party leader is now announcing the birthday party himself could also be seen as a concession to Merkel supporters in his own ranks.

Since taking office following the conservative bloc's disaster in the 2021 parliamentary elections and the move into opposition after 16 years of Merkel's government, Merz has worked hard to bring the party back together.