Difficult Merkel ally says step-down is a shame

29 October, 2018, 14:10 | Author: Charlene Valdez

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her CDU party that she will not run for re-election as its chairwoman in December, sources say.

A disastrous result for either or both parties could further destabilize the national government and ultimately the position of Merkel, Germany's leader for the past 13 years.

After 13 years with Merkel at the helm, majority in coalition with the SPD, many Germans are exhausted of government by carefully-crafted compromise, calling instead for clear direction on pressing policy issues like migration, security, reform of the European Union and climate change.

Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's CSU, and the Social Democrats.

The capital's government quarter has held its breath since Bavarians punished Merkel's allies, the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) and centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), in a state poll earlier this month.

The CDU now governs the state in coalition with the Greens.

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The AfD, meanwhile, gained 12 percent of the votes.

During a CDU leadership meeting this morning, Mrs Merkel said she wanted to remain Chancellor until 2021.

The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12 percent of the vote, the ARD exit poll showed.

Electoral momentum is on the side of newer parties, the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany and the left-leaning ecologist Greens.

Polls point to both CDU state premier and loyal Merkel follower Volker Bouffier and his SPD challenger Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel suffering heavy losses compared with 2013.

"We could then gauge the implementation of this roadmap at the agreed mid-term review, when we would be able to clearly see if this government is the right place for us", Nahles told reporters.

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The Greens, who have governed Hesse in coalition with the CDU over the last 5 years, were neck-and-neck with the SPD, also securing 19.8% of the vote.

Merkel has dragged the CDU to the political center 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.

The result is another milestone in the long decline of the big-tent "people's parties" CDU and SPD that have dominated German politics for decades.

Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrats' leader, said that "the state of the government is unacceptable".

CDU leaders will meet next Sunday to prepare for a summit in December where party members will vote for a new chairman. The base of Germany's second major political party and the CDU's federal coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), has also shrunk by almost 11 percent since Hesse's last election five years ago.

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