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Angela Merkel has been a pillar of stability for Germany and the western world for the better part of two decades, but the party that kept her in charge of Europe’s biggest economy is grappling with the power vacuum she’s leaving behind.

A botched succession plan two years ago has put the Christian Democratic Union in a bind. Instead of a smooth transfer of power, the traditional anchor of German politics faces a messy free-for-all to defend its hold on the chancellery.

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