Angela Merkel to step down as chancellor in 2021


Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the beginning of the end of her time as the country's leader Monday, saying she won't seek re-election as head of the conservative Christian Democratic Union when the party meets in December. She took some of the blame, talking about the effect of "the negative influence of national politics" on local election results.

In the end, the move won't just be good for her, but for her party, too.

Merkel told reporters Monday, however, that she wouldn't try and influence the process of who succeeds her. "I have said over the past few days that Angela Merkel knows best what to do, and now she has decided".

The SPD and Greens were tied on 20 percent, the poll showed, with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) on 12 points, and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and far-left Linke both on 8 points.

However, German media reported that Merkel had told a meeting of top brass in the Christian Democratic Union that she did intend to stay on as chancellor, a mandate set to run until 2021. The chancellor of Germany is usually-but not always-the leader of his or her party.

"With these latest results, it has simply become untenable that Merkel continues to lead the CDU", said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.

Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties-the CDU, its Bavaria-only sister, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democrats.

Merkel's preferred successor as leader of her conservatives, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has also warned the SPD that pulling out of the ruling coalition after the Hesse vote would trigger a federal election.

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

The CDU's coalition partners in Berlin, the Social Democrats (SPD), were also punished at the regional ballot, coming equal-second with the Greens, at 19.8%.

The EU is trying to negotiate a Brexit deal with Britain, deal with a budget crisis in Italy and faces the prospect of populist anti-establishment parties making gains in the European Parliament elections in May.

The BBC's Jenny Hill, in Berlin, says the latest setback comes amid a bad year for the chancellor where her coalition government has lurched unhappily from crisis to crisis.

Potential successors include Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, General Secretary of the CDU; Jens Spahn, Health Minister; Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North-Rhine-Westphalia; Julia Klöckner, Agriculture Minister; Daniel Günther, Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein and Friedrich Merz, former Merkel rival, now inactive.

Merkel, who has been Chancellor since 2005, made the announcement during a news conference today in Berlin. Merkel's party managed an unimpressive win, narrowly salvaging a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens in Hesse. Nahles' comments show the SPD will put more pressure on the conservatives to deliver policy results for the center-left party.

In an attempt to distance herself from Ms Merkel and her leadership style, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer has said the CDU will need to regain some passion if it wants to attract younger voters.