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After the Kohl Government was defeated at the 1998 election , Merkel was appointed Secretary-General of the CDU ,  a key position as the party was no longer part of the federal government. [ citation needed ] Merkel oversaw a string of CDU election victories in six out of seven state elections in 1999, breaking the long-standing SPD-Green hold on the Bundesrat . Following a party funding scandal that compromised many leading figures of the CDU — including Kohl himself and his successor as CDU Leader, Wolfgang Schäuble — Merkel criticised her former mentor publicly and advocated a fresh start for the party without him.  She was subsequently elected to replace Schäuble, becoming the first female leader of a German party on 10 April 2000.  Her election surprised many observers, as her personality offered a contrast to the party she had been elected to lead; Merkel is a centrist Protestant originating from predominantly Protestant northern Germany, while the CDU is a male-dominated, socially conservative party with strongholds in western and southern Germany, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has deep Catholic roots.