Angela Merkel Won't Seek Re-Election As Party Chair

Angela Merkel Won't Seek Re-Election As Party Chair

Angela Merkel Won't Seek Re-Election As Party Chair

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader told her party that despite stepping away from the leadership role, she wanted to remain chancellor.

Two weeks ago, two of the federal governing parties - the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister to Merkel's CDU, and the Social Democrats - were battered in a state election in neighboring Bavaria.

Her centre-right CDU party and the centre-left SPD were 10% down on the previous election in Hesse state.

All this sangfroid is no stoical front in the face of defeat; it is the demeanour of a chancellor who knows that she has a few aces left up her sleeve.

Merkel's CDU came first in Sunday's election in the western state of Hesse but support fell by more than 11 points, reigniting a succession debate by conservatives unhappy with the chancellor's grip on power.

Following the close election results, the SPD's leader, Andrea Nahles, has announced a mid-term review of the current coalition government next year, taking the declining voting numbers as a sign that the German electorate is growing exhausted of the coalition's constant in-fighting and lack of progress on bringing legislative change to Germany.

The mass arrivals are credited with fuelling the rise of the far-right, but Merkel has resisted calls to steer the CDU further rightward in response.

Die Welt reporter Robin Alexander said the path could now be clear for Merkel's chosen heir, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to take the reins if no other credible candidate emerges by December.

When Hesse last elected its state legislature in 2013 - on the same day that Mrs Merkel was triumphantly elected to a third term as chancellor - they won 38.3% and 30.7%, respectively.

Merkel announced during a meeting with officials that she will not seek to run for re-election at the party's convention in December.

No party has haemorrhaged more support in recent years than the SPD, which has wilted as the junior partner governing in Merkel's shadow.

That result would allow the current state government of the CDU and Greens to continue, albeit with a thinner majority. Confirming polls' predictions, the far-right party, buoyed by a backlash against the arrival of more than 1 million refugees in Germany after 2015, is poised to enter the Hesse parliament, the last of Germany's 16 state parliaments from which it was absent.

Merkel's coalition partner in Berlin, the Social Democrats (SPD), tanked to 19.8% in a dead heat with the resurgent Green party for second place.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles said she would use a roadmap with which to measure the progress of the ruling coalition, which has been plagued by infighting, at a mid-term review next year. Her party has been hammered in a regional election and battered in national polls.

Nahles declined to comment Monday on the reports that Merkel might step down as CDU leader.

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