Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Angela Merkel ready to step down as party leader, Germany press reports

German Chancellor Angela Merkel More German Chancellor Angela Merkel More
Gerardo Duncan | 29 October, 2018, 14:56

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union party, Angela Merkel, closes her eyes while speaking after exploratory talks on forming a new government broke down on 19 November 2017 in Berlin.

As the country's two traditionally dominant centrist parties flailed in Hesse, forces on either flank surged: The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the progressive Greens.

The debacle followed a battering in a state election in Bavaria two weeks ago for the CSU and the Social Democrats.

The base of Germany's second major political party and the CDU's federal coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), has also shrunk by almost 11 percent since Hesse's last election five years ago.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is battling with her coalition partners over immigration.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer - widely seen as the chancellor's anointed successor - spoke of a "very painful" night for the CDU in Hesse.

As a result, questions are being asked about the viability of the ruling coalition in Berlin.

Whoever succeeds her as party chair of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), however, will likely be allowed to use the position to increase their public profile before the next general election in 2021.

The claim comes just hours after results came in for the latest German local elections which saw both Merkel's CDU and her national coalition partner the Social Democrats (SDP) hammered.

According to some sources now, CDU party leaders will meet next week to discuss on plans.

In the vote for the central Hesse region's state legislature, the CDU managed a lucklustre win, with the SDP running neck-and-neck with the Greens for second place. But in the face of considerable losses in Hesse, it's thought the CDU leadership may have changed her mind.

The unexpected reversal by Merkel, 64, signals the beginning of the end of an era during which her command of Germany put its stamp on Europe and beyond for more than a decade.

The move is not unprecedented in German politics.

Polls show the SPD would suffer heavily in a national vote.

She said her party would insist on Mrs Merkel's governing coalition agreeing on "a clear, binding timetable" for implementing projects, and that how that is implemented ahead of an already-agreed midterm review next autumn will show "whether we are still in the right place in this government". The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

A loss for Bouffier would make life more hard for Merkel, who has indicated that she plans to seek another two-year term as CDU leader at a congress in December.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right anti-immigrant AfD is now the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag, and has seats in all of Germany's state parliaments.

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