Angela Merkel ready to step down as party leader – reports

- Advertisement -

German chancellor Angela Merkel has told her conservative party that she is ready to step down as its leader following state elections in which it lost ground – but plans to stay on as chancellor for the rest of her term in office, according to reports.

Mrs Merkel also reportedly said that she will not seek re-election to parliament after its current term ends, indicating that this will be her final term as chancellor.

This is something that had been widely assumed, but Mrs Merkel has not offered confirmation until now.

The 64-year-old had previously indicated that she planned to seek another two-year term as leader of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at a December party conference, but appears to be moving quickly to acknowledge pressure for change as her fourth-term government struggles to gain traction.

Andrea Nahles
Social Democratic Party leader Andrea Nahles (AP)

The current parliamentary term is due to expire in 2021, and the dpa news agency reported that Mrs Merkel said she will not seek re-election.

She currently governs Germany in a “grand coalition” of what traditionally have been the country’s biggest parties – the CDU, Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union, and the centre-left Social Democrats.

Her fourth-term government only took office in March, but has become notorious for squabbling.

An election in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the Social Democrats lose significant ground amid gains for both the Green party and the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Christian Democratic Party leaders
German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen and health minister Jens Spahn, arrive for a CDU party’s leaders meeting in Berlin (AP)

The debacle followed a battering in a state election in Bavaria two weeks ago for the CSU and the Social Democrats.

Citing unidentified party sources, the dpa reported that Mrs Merkel told an ongoing CDU leadership meeting that she is prepared to step down as party leader but intends to remain chancellor.

The mass-circulation daily Bild also reported that she said she will not run again as party leader.

That is a major concession for Mrs Merkel, who for years has insisted that the chancellor should also be party leader. However, there is precedent for splitting the two jobs.

Mrs Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his centre-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor until he narrowly lost an election 18 months later.

Helmut Schmidt, West Germany’s chancellor from 1974 to 1982, never led the Social Democrats.

“The CDU faces a turning point,” Mike Mohring, a regional party leader from eastern Germany, told Welt television. “Angela Merkel knows best what to do, and now she has decided. And that demands respect.”

He said that it is important to avoid “long personnel debates” and restore people’s confidence in the CDU as a governing party.

Mrs Merkel dragged the CDU to the political centre in her years as leader, dropping military conscription, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children and abruptly accelerating the shutdown of Germany’s nuclear power plants following Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

She allowed large numbers of asylum-seekers into Germany in 2015, many fleeing the fighting in Syria, declaring that “we will manage it”, before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.

That decision has led to lasting tensions in her conservative Union bloc, particularly with the CDU’s Bavaria-only sister party, the CSU, and helped the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party gain support.

The Social Democrats’ leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded a “clear, binding timetable” for implementing government projects before the federal coalition faces an already-agreed upon mid-term review next autumn.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.