Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, embarks on last lap

Merkel Faces Test of Her Authority in German Regional Vote

News agency dpa cited unidentified party sources who said that she is prepared to step down as party leader but remain as chancellor for now.

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of her conservatives on Monday that she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman, senior party sources said, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.

"I won't seek any further political offices", she added.

Merkel had been widely expected to be reelected as CDU chief at a party congress in December.

Two weeks ago, two of the parties in Merkel's federal "grand coalition" of what have traditionally been Germany's strongest political forces - the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister to Merkel's CDU, and the Social Democrats - were battered in a state election in neighbouring Bavaria.

Despite stepping down from her role as chairwoman of the Christian Democrats, Merkel maintains that she will remain as chancellor.

"Secondly, this fourth term is my last as German chancellor".

Others include two state premiers Armin Laschet and Daniel Guenther, who carry weight after recently leading the CDU to victory in regional elections. The CSU also suffered a setback in Sunday's Hesse elections.

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Nahles' statements put the SPD in-line to withdraw from the current ruling coalition with Merkel's CDU, a move that would see Merkel lose her leadership over Germany after 13 years at the helm.

There was widespread pre-election speculation that a disastrous result for either or both parties could further destabilize the national government, prompting calls for the Social Democrats to walk out and possibly endangering Merkel's own position. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

Merkel made the announcement on the day after Sunday's vote in Hesse in a speech to mark the 20th anniversary of the German Federal Government Commission for Culture and the Media (BKM).

It is still unclear what this means for Merkel's leadership.

Following the close election results, the SPD's leader, Andrea Nahles, has announced a mid-term review of the current coalition government next year, taking the declining voting numbers as a sign that the German electorate is growing exhausted of the coalition's constant in-fighting and lack of progress on bringing legislative change to Germany.

A new CDU chair will be elected at the upcoming party conference in December, Deutsche Welle said.

She allowed large numbers of asylum-seekers into Germany in 2015, many fleeing the fighting in Syria, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.

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