Thursday, 15 November, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down as party leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces another major blow as Germans go to the polls in Hesse German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces another major blow as Germans go to the polls in Hesse Credit AP
Elsie Buchanan | 30 October, 2018, 02:32

On the contrary, she has said she fully intends to see out her term, which is supposed to end in 2021, and not seek a fifth term.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union was defending its 19-year hold on Hesse, previously a stronghold of the centre-left Social Democrats, the chancellor's coalition partners in Berlin.

Ms Merkel's decision to step down echoes that of her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, who quit as leader of his centre-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

While she will remain Chancellor of Germany, media reports say she will not stand for the CDU leadership bid again and that she'll put forward her candidacy at a CDU party conference in Hamburg on 7-8 December this year.

Her CDU party was severely weakened in elections in the state of Hesse on Sunday, the latest poor performance by parties in her coalition government.

"We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel's mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: the gradual but steady erosion of her political power", said Carsten Nickel, managing director at Teneo, a consultancy. Merkel said Kramp-Karrenbauer and Spahn plan to run for the CDU post.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) came home first in the election in the western state of Hesse, but polled just 27.2 percent of the vote, projections for broadcaster ZDF based on preliminary results showed.

India, Japan sign $75 billion currency swap agreement
Also on Sunday, in addition to holding talks in what is now their 11 bilateral, the two leaders visited a robot factory. He arrived Saturday and was invited to Abe's vacation house near Mount Fuji on Sunday for private talks.


The turmoil within the CDU is echoed on the other side of the political aisle, in the SPD, which also suffered dramatic losses in both state elections. The AfD party has representatives in all 16 states in Germany. After 13 years as Germany's head of government and eighteen at the head of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel announced that her current four-year term would be her last.

Merkel will continue as chancellor, a post she's had since 2005.

The CDU's general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said the coalition needs to identify "three concrete projects for the coming months that we implement".

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. That was enough to give the CDU a win but was the party's worst showing since 1966 and a drop of 11 percentage points since Hesse's last election, in 2013.

Merkel's coalition was twice on the brink of collapse, once over immigration policy and then over a dispute about the fate of the domestic intelligence chief who was accused of harbouring far-right views.

"The time has come to open a new chapter", Merkel said.

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.

"The message to the parties ruling in Berlin is: People want fewer disputes and more focus on the important issues", he said.

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