“I will not be seeking any political post after my tenure ends,” Angela Merkel told a news conference in Berlin on Monday.
After 18 years, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced her decision to step down as the leader of the governing CDU. Merkel made the announcement on Monday after a meeting of the party’s leadership in Berlin. “This chancellorship is my last,” said Merkel in front of the press, ending her 13-year reign as head of government. She will therefore not seek re-election at the CDU congress in Hamburg at the beginning of December but she will remain chancellor until the end of the present term in 2021.
Merkel’s decision came in the wake of her party’s loss in the state election in Hesse. Centre-right CDU and the centre-left SPD both dropped by more than 10% in the regional election on Sunday. The election result is said to be a historic worst for the SPD, which went from 30.7% to 19.9%. The CDU went from 38.3% to 27.9%. The two parties are in a governing coalition under Chancellor Merkel. The big winners were the Greens, who went from 11.1% to 19.5%.
Two weeks ago, the sister of the CDU, the CSU, also suffered massive losses at the Bavarian elections.
Parties like the left-leaning Greens and the far-right, anti-immigration AfD have grown in national support following the 2017 general election, as backing for the major centre parties has waned.
Calls for leadership changes within the CDU have become louder following both these regional elections. How long Merkel’s current government lasts now depends on who the CDU chooses to replace her as party leader, say analysts.
Former CDU faction leader in the Bundestag, Friedrich Merz, has announced the he was ready to succeed Merkel as party leader, in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday. Merz was prepared to “face up to responsibility” if the party wanted it.
Other party members of the party being speculated as possible successor to Merkel are Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Armin Laschet and the president of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble.
Sola Jolaoso with agency reports