Weakened Merkel to step down as chancellor in 2021

Ann Santiago
October 30, 2018

Angela Merkel said Monday (Oct 29) she would step down as German chancellor at the end of her term in 2021 after a series of political crises and regional vote debacles rocked her fragile coalition.

She later told press that she was stepping down as party leader was the first step towards a leadership transition.

He is a senior CDU politician turned chairman of Blackrock Germany, who from 2000 until 2002 held the powerful post as leader of the Christian Union's parliamentary group, also serving as deputy to Chancellor Merkel.

After speculation by media and politicians alike around why the chancellor made the announcement, Ms. Merkel said she had chose to signal that she had heard the message voters were sending.

She announced her decision the day after voters punished both her CDU and the Social Democrats in an election in the central state of Hesse.

"It is time today for me to start a new chapter", Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

Merkel, her party and its allies in a governing coalition have been under attack by far-right politicians, who have been able to translate tensions over Germany receiving refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries into election wins and a growing base of support.

The governing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has been in office for all of half a year.

"She was genuinely sad and not at all bitter and asked that the discussion about her succession be conducted in a kind manner", the source said, adding that Merkel's words were greeted with a standing ovation.

The 62-year-old lawyer was not necessarily a top contender as a Merkel successor but was widely discussed as a potential replacement after he put himself forward shortly after the chancellor announced she was ready to hand over the leadership position.

Speaking on October 15, Merkel admitted that voters had lost trust in the government.

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed news of Merkel's eventual exit as "good news" and said he expected her to also "give up her chancellorship soon".

Such results would make various regional coalitions possible, with the Greens potentially joining parties to their right or left or even, if their results are exceptionally good, having a chance to make their local leader Tarek Al-Wazir - now Bouffier's deputy - the state governor.

Sunday's voting followed a state election in Bavaria two weeks ago, in which the SPD and CSU also suffered major setbacks.

"This would have been unthinkable in 2013, when she nearly won an outright majority in the Federal elections", he added.

Nahles said on Sunday she would propose a roadmap to allow the SPD to measure the progress of the ruling coalition, which has been plagued by infighting, at a mid-term review next year.

"If this government were to break apart now, it would come down to early elections", CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said this week. Helmut Schmidt, West Germany's chancellor from 1974 to 1982, never led the Social Democrats. Merz lost his post as the party's parliamentary leader to Merkel in 2002 and has been absent from front-line politics in recent years.

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