Angela Merkel steps down as CDU party leader

30 October, 2018, 05:10 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer is one of the candidates to replace Angela Merkel as party leader

Angela Merkel is reportedly telling her conservative party that she is prepared to step down as its leader but remain as German chancellor.

Despite her global standing, Merkel has no plans to seek a post in the European Commission after bowing out of German politics, the CDU source told AFP, despite speculation to that effect in Brussels.

The leader of the Greens, the party that exceeded its own expectations in Hesse and Bavaria, Annalena Baerbock, also expressed her gratitude for having Merkel as the CDU leader.

Merkel has been in a hard position since September 2017, when a national election left her party without an overall majority. This position has allowed the so-called grand coalition which presently rules Germany, an alliance between the main centre-right CDU and main centre-left SPD, from parties which should, in theory, be opposed on government but are united in keeping other voices out of power.

Ms Merkel said she would also not seek re-election as chair of her conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Market reaction was muted with the euro remaining above last week's low against the dollar on the news, which followed setbacks for Merkel's CDU-led bloc in regional elections this month. Sunday's vote in the economically strong state of Hesse proves that the country wants change.

Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner on July 17, 1954 in the port city of Hamburg, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman and a school teacher. The SPD meanwhile, slipped to fifth place behind the eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Merkel's party has experienced a series of losses in regional elections, most recently in the central German region of Hesse - a former CDU stronghold - on Sunday.

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.

German governing parties punished in state election
The Latest: Merkel reportedly ready to step down from party

Incidentally, this call was echoed by the left-wing party Die Linke as its chief Katja Kipping criticized Merkel's decision to leave only the party leadership as inconsistent.

The government nearly collapsed twice over the summer, notably when Merkel restrained hardline interior minister Horst Seehofer's attempts to toughen up migrant policy.

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed Merkel's planned departure as "good news".

But despite her assurance that she would step down in 2021, some doubt she could even make it to the end of her term. According to exit polls and projections from the provisional stages of the count, the Social Democrats are expected to lose as much as 11 percent from their previous total, and secure around 20 percent of the vote. Nahles, who previously blamed the federal government for the SPD's results in Hesse and Bavaria, named her 18-year-long CDU leadership an "outstanding result".

Mr Merz is among the many conservative men who have seen their political fortunes dwindle under Ms Merkel.

Two prominent candidates immediately threw their hats in the ring: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, the party's general secretary, who is viewed as a Merkel ally and largely backs her centrist approach; and Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an ambitious conservative who has talked tough on migration and has criticized Merkel.

In one of her most debated political decisions, Merkel approved the acceptance of more than one million refugees during Europe's migrant crisis in 2015.

Increasing numbers of SPD members have been calling for the party to quit the government and lick its wounds in opposition, as it is presently polling below AfD nationwide, at 15 percent to the far-right's 16 percent.

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