Difficult Merkel ally says step-down is a shame

Germans Are Completely Fed Up Want Change – Ex Diplomat on Elections

News agency dpa cited unidentified party sources as saying Merkel told an ongoing CDU leadership meeting that she's prepared to step down as party leader but intends to remain chancellor.

In the state of Hesse's election Sunday, the CDU saw a 11-point drop in support from the last election in 2013, as did its coalition partner, the center-left Social Democratic Party.

Ranging from loyal allies to fierce critics, there's no shortage of possible contenders to succeed Germany's Angela Merkel as head of the centre-right CDU party in December and secure a shot at succeeding her as chancellor.

As Merkel's power within her own party is fading, being so closely associated with the Chancellor could still disrupt Kramp-Karrenbauer's plans to take over as party leader.

This would be in contrast to Mrs Merkel's previous position, in which she has linked the party leadership role to the chancellorship - meaning that she would only remain chancellor if she was party leader.

The ARD exit poll showed only 13 percent of CDU voters believed Merkel had helped the party in Hesse, down from 70 percent at the last state election, reflecting voter anger at her decision in 2015 to welcome nearly one million, mainly Muslim asylum seekers. Her announcement not to run for party chair again in December shows how serious the situation is.

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.

Taxi for Angela Merkel?

The shock move started a race within her party to find a successor.

More news: Pochettino in low mood despite Spurs' strong domestic start

Merkel's popularity has indeed been slipping for a long time, with her handling of the 2015 migrant crisis being a major contributing factor.

Often referred to by her initials "AKK", her Catholic views overlap more with the conservative wing of the CDU than Merkel on social questions like abortion or gay marriage. Merkel is only the third chancellor of a reunified Germany.

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.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, secretary general of the CDU, is seen October 21 in Berlin during the election campaign. The Social Democrats only reluctantly joined her coalition in March, and another crisis or an already-agreed midterm review next fall could spell its end.

The new party boss will be a candidate for the next head of the German government, while early elections are not rule out, Deutsche Welle writes on Monday.

Many liberals around the world may still hail the brainy, pragmatic and unflappable Merkel, 64, as a welcome counterbalance to the big, brash men of global politics, from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin.

Merkel's coalition was twice on the brink of collapse, once over immigration policy and then over a dispute about the fate of the domestic intelligence chief who was accused of harbouring far-right views.

The right-leaning spectrum of the German political scene has been far more critical.

The Social Democrats' leader, Andrea Nahles, said she hopes the CDU leadership contest will end arguments within Merkel's bloc about its direction and leaders.

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