Merkel facing calls to step down as CDU party leader

Merkel facing calls to step down as CDU party leader

Mrs Merkel's conservative CDU party now rules along with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing calls from her own conservatives to cede the party's leadership, further eroding her authority after painful losses in a regional election.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed on Monday she would not seek re-election as chairwoman of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December, heralding the beginning of the end of her 13-year era of dominance in European politics.

Merkel told the party that this will be her final parliamentary term as chancellor, the dpa news agency reported, citing unidentified party sources.

This position has allowed the so-called grand coalition which presently rules Germany, an alliance between the main centre-right CDU and main centre-left SPD, from parties which should, in theory, be opposed on government but are united in keeping other voices out of power.

This will distract her from tending to major challenges at home and overseas - ranging from overcoming a digital deficit and pushing the German vehicle industry toward cleaner mobility to seeing through euro zone reforms and managing Britain's planned departure from the European Union. The environmentalists surged to 19.5 percent of the vote, up 8 percentage points since the last election five years ago and running neck-and-neck with the SPD.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is battling with her coalition partners over immigration.

Seen by many as Merkel's anointed successor, Kramp-Karrenbauer cautioned that "if the government falls apart now, it will result in new elections", a barely concealed warning to would-be coalition breakers in both the CDU and SPD.

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The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12.8 percent of the vote, the ZDF projection showed.

Merkel has chaired the CDU for 18 years and has until now insisted that the presidency of the party went hand in hand with the chancellorship post.

However she has come under mounting pressure in recent months, culminating in a disastrous result for Germany's ruling parties in state elections this weekend.

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

The unstable government nearly collapsed twice over the summer, notably when Merkel restrained hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's attempts to toughen up migrant policy.

"The election results show that people expect renewal from the CDU", conservative lawmaker Matern von Marschall told the Stuttgarter newspaper.

Merkel confirmed her plans at a press conference in Berlin on Monday. Merkel's party managed an unimpressive win, narrowly salvaging a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens.

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