What Angela Merkel’s Decision Not to Run Again as Party Leader Means

30 October, 2018, 02:33 | Author: Mary Valdez
  • Merkel Coalition Set for Another Battering in Hesse Elections			ODD ANDERSEN  AFP  Getty Images		28 Oct 2018

Merkel's weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the EU 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.

As her troubles have multiplied since the migrant crisis, observers have asked whether Merkel, rather than be pushed out, will know when it is time to hand over the crown. Merkel's chief spokesman Steffen Seibert said she intends to see out her full term.

Merkel also said she hoped her decision to step down would permit "the government to concentrate its strength, finally, on governing well".

Speaking at a meeting of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union on Monday, a day after a bruising state poll in Hesse, Merkel told top brass that she planned to give up the party leadership, a role she has held for 18 years.

The Social Democrats, who were badly beaten in last year's national election, only reluctantly entered Merkel's fourth-term national government in March.

Electoral drubbings like the latest on Sunday in the state of Hessen were "a watershed, but in them could lie a chance", Merkel said, for Germany's mainstream political parties including her own to find a way forward.

The 64-year-old chancellor's personal popularity remains solid but she appeared keen to launch an orderly transition period amid signs that her authority is eroding.

Angela Merkel is to stand down as leader of her party but wants to remain as chancellor of Germany, according to reports.

In the end, the move won't just be good for her, but for her party, too.

The next federal election is in 2021.

It had been widely assumed that this would be Merkel's final term as chancellor, but before the reported remarks, she had not confirmed that herself.

"I once said that I wasn't born chancellor", she said.

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She was seeking to strike a sober contrast to the highly personal internal quarrels of the conservative camp in recent months.

After almost 13 years in power, 64-year-old Merkel's authority has been severely tested since a disappointing result in last year's federal election. If it's an enemy like Friedrich Merz - pushed aside during the chancellor's rise to power - then she may be in trouble.

The SPD plunged to its worst result in decades to tie for second place with the up-and-coming ecologist Greens, each at 19.8 percent.

Two prominent candidates immediately threw their hats in the ring for the CDU leadership. Merkel's favoured successor is CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

"It will be particularly painful for French president Emmanuel Macron, who was hoping for Merkel's support in his plans for wide-reaching European reform".

With surprising candor, she has mentioned over the past few days how hard it is to manage one's own succession after so many years at the helm.

Many men in politics and journalists "laughed at her and called her weak" when she initially rose to power, Nahles said in Berlin.

She swung her conservatives behind bailouts for Greece and other struggling eurozone nations, striking a balance between calls for a strict approach at home and more generosity overseas.

Jens Spahn, 38, has become one of Ms Merkel's most outspoken critics within the CDU since her decision in 2015 to welcome more than a million refugees, mostly Muslims from war zones in the Middle East. She governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally has been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union and the center-left Social Democrats.

She also faces pressure from her Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partners, who have also bled support in Hesse and are under pressure to rethink their alliance with Merkel.

In Bavarian elections on October 15, Merkel's coalition partner the CSU lost its majority in the regional parliament for the first time since 1957.

Over the last two weeks, voters in the states of Hesse and Bavaria also punished her party and coalition allies CSU and SPD in two separate regional elections.

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