Friday, 16 November, 2018

‘Why German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to announce end of career’

Merkel Coalition Set for Another Battering in Hesse Elections			ODD ANDERSEN  AFP  Getty Images		28 Oct 2018 Merkel Coalition Set for Another Battering in Hesse Elections ODD ANDERSEN AFP Getty Images 28 Oct 2018
Glenn Montgomery | 30 October, 2018, 05:13

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. She has held the post since 2000.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

It came two weeks after a similar debacle for the CSU and Social Democrats in neighbouring Bavaria.

Coming on the heels of an electoral setback for the governing coalition in Bavaria earlier this month, the trouncing in Hesse, which saw the Greens the biggest beneficiary, is prompting questions about whether this defeat will ultimately spell the end of Angela Merkel.

Merkel's weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the European Union at a time when the bloc is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy and the prospect of populist parties making gains at European parliament elections next May.

Supporters of the nationalist Alternative for Germany AfD celebrate after the state election in the German state of Hesse in Wiesbaden, Germany, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.

The turmoil within the CDU is echoed on the other side of the political aisle, in the SPD, which also suffered dramatic losses in both state elections.

While Merkel's CDU emerged as the leading vote-getter in Hesse, a state the party has dominated for two decades, it was expected to secure just 27 percent of the vote - more than 10 percent less than in an election five years ago.

"Rather than outright instability in Germany and Europe, it simply means a continuation of the current leadership vacuum".

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.

"This may be one reason why Merkel sticks around a bit longer", Campbell said. She said she will not run for re-election as chairwoman of the CDU at the party convention on Dec 7. The Social Democrats, or SPD, had its worst loss since 1946. Merkel is only the third chancellor of a reunified Germany.

Die Welt reporter Robin Alexander said the path could now be clear for CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, nicknamed AKK, to take the reins.

Several CDU politicians have announced they want to succeed Ms Merkel as party leader.

Her decision came after poor showings in two regional elections and opens the door wide open for a leadership competition as the centrist German parties fight to keep their relevance in a highly fragmented political landscape. If Merkel wanted to win a fifth term as chancellor after 2021, she would have to re-establish her party as dominant under her leadership.

There was widespread pre-election speculation that a disastrous result for either or both parties could further destabilise the national government, prompting calls for the Social Democrats to walk out and possibly endangering Mrs Merkel's own position.

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.

She allowed in large numbers of asylum-seekers in 2015, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.

Growing anti-immigrant feelings in Germany have fueled support for the AfD in recent years.

She said the SPD would now lay out a "roadmap" in Berlin demanding concrete progress on key issues by next October, including pension rights and better childcare, before deciding whether to remain in the coalition.

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