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Blow to Merkel as ally Kauder loses senior party job

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Blow to Merkel as ally Kauder loses senior party job

Blow to Merkel as ally Kauder loses senior party job
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered an unexpected blow to her authority on Tuesday when her conservatives voted out long-standing ally Volker Kauder as head of the parliamentary party, the party said on Tuesday.

His successor is Ralph Brinkhaus, one of the deputy leaders of the conservative group in the Bundestag lower house, comprising Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU). Brinkhaus won with 125 votes to 112.

Kauder has accompanied Merkel for 13 years in the job which provides a link between the conservative party's leadership and its increasingly restive lawmakers.

"I am very pleased by the result of the vote, we have a lot of work to do," said Brinkhaus, adding he had great respect for Kauder's achievements.

Brinkhaus announced his candidacy a few weeks ago, surprising many commentators who viewed the move as something of a challenge to one of Merkel's closest allies, but he was widely expected to lose.

(Reporting by Thorsten Severin and Tassilo Hummel; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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