German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she will step down in 2021, giving up the leadership of the Christian Democrat Union, after the party suffered severe blows in the latest elections.
Merkel said during a news conference that she would give up her role as head of the CDU and not pursue re-election in December after they performed poorly in elections in the state of Hesse on Sunday — just the latest election setback by parties in her coalition government, as reported by the BBC.
“I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends,” Merkel said in a news conference in Berlin.
She added she took “full responsibility” for the latest election setbacks.
In the state of Hesse, both the CDU and its coalition partners, the Social Democrats, were down 10 percent compared to the previous poll there, and just a few weeks ago, Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered a massive blow in a state parliament vote.
It had been widely believed that this would be Merkel’s last term as chancellor, but she had yet to confirm that herself. The 64-year-old politician had been dominating European politics for over a decade, as she has been CDU chairwoman since 2000 and has held the chancellor role since 2005.
BREAKING: Angela Merkel confirms she won't seek re-election as leader of Germany's CDU.— Bloomberg (@business) October 29, 2018
She'll also quit politics after stepping down as chancellor in 2021 https://t.co/z5kHxWkt5D pic.twitter.com/osCFlk7Nue
The announcement came after a meeting with her party officials, which was called to discuss the two election disasters of the previous weeks. Merkel had revealed earlier her decision to the leave the party and her “moving words” were welcomed with a standing ovation, insiders told German media, according to the Guardian. She said the 13 years that she spent as chancellor had been “a daily challenge and honor,” yet she agreed it was time for a new era in German politics to begin.
Whoever is elected to become the next CDU leader will likely serve as the party’s candidate for the chancellor role in 2021. Her most likely successor is CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who announced her candidacy this Monday. German media outlets also reported that Friedrich Merz, a former parliamentary leader of the CDU/CSU alliance, also intended on running to become Merkel’s replacement. Other favorites include Health Minister Jens Spahn and Armin Laschet, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia.
German news agency DPA reported that Merkel wants to carry on as chancellor for now, and she has also pointed out the 2021 timeline. Usually, the person who is the party chair of the government’s largest party also takes the role of chancellor, but that rule isn’t compulsory.