Economy

Who will replace Merkel? The figures who could rise from Angela's ashes

Who will replace Merkel? The figures who could rise from Angela's ashes

Speaking at a meeting of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union on Monday, a day after a bruising state poll in Hesse, Merkel told top brass that she planned to give up the party leadership, a role she has held for 18 years. That decision has led to lasting tensions in her conservative Union bloc, particularly with the CDU's Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.

Political analysts in Germany have wondered whether Merkel might not serve out a full term if she's not leading her own party - a pairing that Merkel herself has said is crucial to being an effective chancellor.

Young people in Germany can scarcely remember a time before Angela Merkel, 64, was their Chancellor.

For now the CDU will nearly certainly support her decision as it focuses on the leadership contest and the Social Democrats, while they've been punished for joining Merkel's coalition, have little incentive to trigger an election.

"This term is my last as chancellor", Merkel said and added that she would not seek any political posts after her current term ends in 2021.

That's a major concession for Merkel, who for years has insisted that the chancellor should also be party leader.

Many men in politics and journalists "laughed at her and called her weak" when she initially rose to power, Nahles said in Berlin.

The governing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has been in office for all of half a year.

More news: Mahinda sworn in as PM

When Kohl became embroiled in a campaign finance scandal in 1999, Merkel openly urged her party to drop the self-declared "old warhorse".

She intends to remain chancellor until 2021, when her parliamentary term runs out, the Associated Press cited her as saying. In any case, she said the party's loss of support was too severe to brush off.

Merkel's decision has made it even more likely that the SPD will withdraw from the coalition, which would shift the burden of responsibility for the government's failure onto the Social Democrats' shoulders.

Party sources said Merkel's favored successor, CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Friedrich Merz, a former parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservative alliance, and Health Minister Jens Spahn had announced their candidacies for the party chair. She put Germany and Europe on track toward a new political era after voters punished Germany's governing parties in a state election Sunday, the latest in a string of woes to hit her fourth-term federal administration.

Such results would make various regional coalitions possible, with the Greens potentially joining parties to their right or left or even, if their results are exceptionally good, having a chance to make their local leader Tarek Al-Wazir - now Bouffier's deputy - the state governor. That could pressure party leader Andrea Nahles to abandon the coalition with Merkel.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, secretary general of the CDU, is seen October 21 in Berlin during the election campaign.

She said she hopes to open the way for "new success for the CDU" by letting it prepare for her departure as chancellor, and she won't interfere with the choice of a successor.


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