Published: Tue, October 30, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Germany's Angela Merkel prepares exit plan after party's poor election showing

Germany's Angela Merkel prepares exit plan after party's poor election showing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Monday that she will step down as the leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union party after 18 years.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

It wasn't. In the Bavarian election two weeks ago, the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, placed first but lost its absolute majority after its worst showing in six decades. "The CDU should make way for a new start in a government or a new election in Germany", he told NTV, a TV channel. The CSU also suffered a setback in Sunday's Hesse elections.

That seemed unlikely anyway, especially after recent results in local and regional elections.

Earlier in the meeting, Mrs Merkel had told party members that she would not run again for the party leadership at a conference in December.

Indeed, Ms. Merkel, has been the main voice calling for pan-European unity as the nationalist forces rise across the continent and southern Europe, wary of Germany's economic might, tries shake off the lingering effects of the deep recessions after the 2008 financial crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to step down at the end of her present term of office in 2021.

Merkel's ruling coalition "has lost the confidence of the electorate", said Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of weekly Die Zeit.

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Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's CSU, and the Social Democrats. When Hesse last elected its state legislature in 2013 - on the same day that Merkel was triumphantly elected to a third term as chancellor - they won 38.3 and 30.7 per cent, respectively. Instead, Merkel has forced the issue of succession with nearly three years to go on her fourth term, which seems more tailored to the need for the CDU to prepare a new candidate for chancellor, too.

Merkel has served as the CDU party leader since 2000; she will step down from that position at the party's conference this December, leaving her subordinates a hard task ahead in the selection of their next leader; no telling if CDU's popularity in the country will have improved by then.

She has also ruled out running for a fifth term as chancellor in 2021.

Andrea Nahles, leader of the Social Democrats, on Sunday demanded a "clear, binding timetable" for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

Party sources also said that Friedrich Merz, a former parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservative alliance, was ready to put himself forward for the CDU chairmanship.

Kramp-Karrenbauer is eight years younger than Merkel and - just like Merkel - stands for the party's moderate wing.

Merkel's grand coalition has come close to collapse this year over migration issues and a scandal involving the country's spy chief.

She allowed in large numbers of asylum-seekers in 2015, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach. It remains to be seen whether leadership changes in Germany's two big tent parties can address their ebbing support in a changing political landscape, as voters head to the Greens or the AfD.

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