Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Merkel to stand down as CDU leader, stay German Chancellor

Merkel to stand down as CDU leader, stay German Chancellor

Merkel, who has headed the CDU for 18 years, had until now always indicated that she believed the posts of party leader and chancellor should be held by the same person.

Merkel, who has been CDU chairwoman since 2000, told a party leadership meeting of her offer on Monday morning, after the party reeled from heavy losses in two recent regional elections, most recently on Sunday in Hesse.

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

Born in Hamburg in July 1954, Angela Merkel began her political career by joining the communist leaning youth movement Free German Youth.

The SPD plunged to its worst result in decades to tie for second place with the up-and-coming ecologist Greens, each at 19.8 percent.

Her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder stepped down as leader of his party in 2004 but remained Chancellor.

In September previous year, Merkel's CDU party won the general election but more than 13% of the voting population chose the right-wing nationalists AfD, which are anti-Islam and anti-refugee.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) meanwhile took 13.1 percent to enter the Hesse state legislature for the first time.

His CDU colleague Christian von Steffen was more blunt: 'We need a meaningful programme with a clear path and new faces'.

Her message was clear: the SPD needs to be able to show tangible results to its supporters next year or else the party's leaders will pull out of the coalition with Merkel.

Nahles is also feeling the heat from SPD members still disgruntled with their leaders' decision to join Merkel instead of fulfilling an election promise to sit in opposition if they fail to win the federal vote.

Nor did the veteran leader's fourth government get off to a good start after its formation earlier this year, with two rows over relatively minor points bringing it to the brink of collapse over the summer.

Following the close election results, the SPD's leader, Andrea Nahles, has announced a mid-term review of the current coalition government next year, taking the declining voting numbers as a sign that the German electorate is growing exhausted of the coalition's constant in-fighting and lack of progress on bringing legislative change to Germany.

However, the battle scarred Mrs Merkel is a political survivor - our correspondent adds - and renouncing the leadership of her party might just silence critics within her own ranks, for now. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

"We went into the government because we really want to improve things - for families, for single parents, for caregivers", said Lars Klingbeil, the party's general secretary.

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