What Angela Merkel’s Decision Not to Run Again as Party Leader Means


German governing parties punished in state election

As her troubles have multiplied since the migrant crisis, observers have asked whether Merkel, rather than be pushed out, will know when it is time to hand over the crown.

Angela Merkel finally took action to stem the growing panic within her coalition government on Monday when she announced she would step down as leader of her Christian Democrat party (CDU) in December.

CDU leaders will meet next Sunday to prepare for a summit in December where party members will vote for a new chairman.

The SPD leader said she did not want to "leave our fate to our coalition partners" and wait until the government finds a "sensible" working mode. She had won four consecutive terms.

Ms Merkel has led the Christian Democrats since 2000 and been chancellor since 2005.

"Angela Merkel knows quite clearly that she is living through the last months or through the a year ago of her chancellorship", Werner Patzelt, a politics professor at the Technical University in Dresden, told NBC News. The Social Democrats, who are part of her government's coalition, were also down in this last election. Since then, both Merkel and her CSU allies have been criticized for their management of the influx.

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The party executive of the CDU met in Berlin on Monday to discuss Merkel's conservative bloc suffering a massive slump in two state parliamentary elections in as many weeks.

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed Merkel's eventual departure as "good news".

Merkel rounded up all her decisions in one sentence - that she will not stand for any political office once her mandate as chancellor expires in 2021.

Railing against the newcomers, the far-right anti-immigrant AfD is now the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag, and has seats in all of Germany's state parliaments.

"This fourth term is my last term as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany".

Currently Merkel's contender is CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

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"I am quite courageous when a decision has to be made", Mrs Merkel said in later life.

"I will work on that with as much vigor as I can", she added.

Three months later, her father moved the family to a small-town parish in the communist East at a time when most people were headed the other way. Merkel's one-time mentor, Helmut Kohl, did seek a fifth term in 1998 and lost power after 16 years.

Two prominent candidates immediately threw their hats in the ring for the CDU leadership. With surprising candor, she has mentioned over the past few days how hard it is to manage one's own succession after so many years at the helm. But with headwinds still rather challenging for the euro, I can still see rallies being sold at this point.

She swung her conservatives behind bailouts for Greece and other struggling eurozone nations, striking a balance between calls for a strict approach at home and more generosity overseas.

She allowed in large numbers of asylum seekers in 2015, declaring "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.

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An election Sunday in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the Social Democrats lose significant ground, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

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