Angela Merkel says she will step down as German Chancellor in 2021

Glen Norman
October 30, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she is ready to hand over the leadership of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) later this year, according to multiple media reports, offering the clearest indication to date that her time at the helm of Europe's largest economy is running out. Chancellor Merkel, who has led the party since 2000, was due to stand again in December to be voted in as leader at a party conference.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

The coalition had suffered a similar loss two weeks earlier in Bavaria.

Angela Merkel set off Monday on what could be a three-year countdown to the end of her leadership of Germany, a stint that has made her the European Union's longest-serving leader and a key figure in facing the continent's many crises.

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.

Past regional election results in Hesse and in Bavaria have seen the conservative CDU and their Bavaria-only counterpart, the CSU, lose voters.

His CDU colleague Christian von Steffen was more blunt: 'We need a meaningful programme with a clear path and new faces'.

Ms. Merkel said she believed the same person should hold both posts but she had decided stepping down as party head but not as chancellor would help the party as it searches for a new leader.

"With these latest results, it has simply become untenable that Merkel continues to lead the CDU", said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy. That would be the worst result in the region for the Social Democrats since World War II.

It is the SPD that could accelerate Ms. Merkel's demise as chancellor.

Two prominent candidates immediately threw their hats in the ring: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, the party's general secretary, who is viewed as a Merkel ally and largely backs her centrist approach; and Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an ambitious conservative who has talked tough on migration and has criticized Merkel.

Merkel has served as the CDU party leader since 2000; she will step down from that position at the party's conference this December, leaving her subordinates a hard task ahead in the selection of their next leader; no telling if CDU's popularity in the country will have improved by then.

But despite her assurance that she would step down in 2021, some doubt she could even make it to the end of her term.

That means Germany has lost some of its authority on the European stage just when the bloc faces some tough challenges including Brexit negotiations, an increasingly assertive Russian Federation and a more protectionist United States.

Merkel's 13 years as chancellor have piled up baggage from repeated compromise-laden "grand coalitions" with the SPD, as well as a fateful 2015 decision to keep Germany's borders open, ultimately allowing in more than one million migrants.

Mr Merz is among the many conservative men who have seen their political fortunes dwindle under Ms Merkel. Capturing only 33 per cent of the vote, Ms. Merkel's CDU spent nearly six months trying to cobble together a coalition, eventually resorting to the vastly diminished SPD to form a government.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article