] Europe-focused correspondent with extensive experience in the Middle East and South Asia
Griff Witte ] Europe-focused correspondent with extensive experience in the Middle East and South Asia Rick Noack The Foreign Ministry's…
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Sa Monday that she is ready to hand over the leadership of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) later this year, an unexpected decision that offered the clearest indication so far that her time at the helm of Europe’s largest economy expires.
Merkel also said that she will not run back to the office and will retire from politics when her current term expires in 2021. But with political pressure that she grew and her government was both unpopular and unstable, it was unclear if she could last for so long.
Merkel has been Chairman of the CDU since 2000 and while her resignation from the party post would not automatically lead to her going down as German Chancellor, the move is a recognition for her increasingly vulnerable position.
Merkel himself has previously said that chancellors should also be leaders of the government party. But she said Monday that she had changed in the summer because there were indications that “we can not continue business as usual.”
“Time has come to open a new chapter,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin.
Reports of the message resigned from speculation of speculation in the German media about who would succeed Merkel. The 64-year-old has led Germany for the past 13 years and, until recently, had not seen as grooming a successor.
Earlier this year, however, she seemed to have blessed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the single leader of the West German state of Saarland and now the CDU Secretary General.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is considered moderate in the Merkel tradition, and German media reported Monday that she will be a candidate for the party’s best job.
But the conservative wing of CDU is also expected to mount a challenge. Health counselor Jens Spahn, 38, and Friedrich Merz, former CDU senior editor, are called both Monday in German news reports as candidates.
CDU is expected to elect its new chair in December at a party conference in the north German city of Hamburg. Until Monday, it was generally expected that Merkel would run for re-election, although it was speculated that she could face a challenge, as the party’s voting number has decreased and regional elections have produced a series of bad results.
Merkel’s decision comes one day after her party was hit by major losses during regional elections in the state of Hesse, which has long been a bellwether for the nation. Just two weeks ago, the CDU sister party, the Christian Social Union, continued similar losses in his native Bavaria.
The move also comes one month after Merkel’s long-term leader in the German parliament, Volker Kauder, was unexpectedly defeated in an internal party vote. The loss of the long-standing Merkel trust marked a rare moment when the CDU’s elected officials had depleted the will of the Chancellor.
Until the last case, Merkel was in the familiar position: the undoubtedly dominant figure in German politics, with few real rivals. However, national elections in September 2017 gave an unexpectedly poor result for CDU, and the chancellor’s determination has never been the same since.
Sunday’s election to the state parliament in Hesse – the home in Frankfurt, the heart of Germany’s finances – gave Merkel’s center-right CDU 27 percent of the vote.
It was good enough for the first place, but down 11 percent since the state last rediscovered, 2013, and represents the worst achievement of the party in more than half a century. Merkel on Monday described the results as “bitter” and “disappointment”.
The background to Merkel’s coalition partner, the Central Left Social Democrats (SPD), also fell from 31 percent to 20 percent – a low not seen in 72 years. The weaknesses of the Social Democrats in the regional elections this year in Hesse and Bavaria have put pressure on their national leadership to force Merkel into more concessions.
Luisa Beck contributed to this report.
Merkel’s problem arises when her party strikes in German regional elections