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German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down in 2021

Merkel has been the leader of Germany for 13 years and her party’s leader for 18.

Image: DPA/PA Images

Updated Oct 29th 2018, 1:05 PM

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2021.

The announcement follows yesterday’s Hesse state election in which Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party lost significant ground.

Merkel also informed a news conference that she would not seek re-election as party chairwoman in December.

Merkel has led the CDU since 2000 and has been Germany’s chancellor since 2005.

The German leader told reporters today that she sees this as the opening of a new phase for her conservative party, saying “this is a very good process that we haven’t had in 18 years”.

She confirmed reports that Health Minister Jens Spahn and CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer have both announced they would vie for the party leadership job.

Spahn has been a critic of Merkel while Kramp-Karrenbauer is widely seen as relatively close to the chancellor. Merkel told reporters today, however, that she wouldn’t try and influence the process of who succeeds her.

Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his center-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor. For years, Merkel insisted that the chancellor should also be party leader.

Merkel currently governs Germany in a “grand coalition” of what traditionally have been the country’s biggest parties — the CDU, its Bavaria-only sister, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democrats.

Her fourth-term government took office only in March but has become notorious for squabbling.

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Yesterday’s election in the central state of Hesse saw both Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democrats lose significant ground, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

Merkel’s party managed an unimpressive win, narrowly salvaging a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens.

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

The Social Democrats’ leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded yesterday a “clear, binding timetable” for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

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Associated Press

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