German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not seek re-election

Hannah Rogers
October 29, 2018

Earlier in October, Merkel's ruling coalition was shaken after the Christian Social Union (CSU) - the sister party of the CDU - gained 37.3 percent in Germany's largest and second-most populous state of Bavaria.

Over the weekend, a key regional election in the German state of Hesse, which includes the population-heavy city of Frankfurt, saw Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU coalition suffer extreme losses in voter confidence, narrowly escaping defeat and sending a warning shot across the bow of Merkel allies that the populace is growing exhausted of political in-fighting and disenfranchised with the lack of policy results.

Preliminary final results showed both of the formerly dominant parties being hit with losses of around 11 percentage points in Hesse, western Germany, compared with the last election in 2013, although the CDU still claimed first place with 27 percent of the vote.

Mrs Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, said that the national government must now pull together and "show we are solving the problems that really move people".

The clear victor of Sunday's state polls is the Green Party, in another repeat of the recent Bavarian election.

Kramp-Karrenbauer - seen by many as Merkel's anointed successor - also cautioned that "if the government falls apart now, it will result in new elections", in a barely concealed warning to would-be coalition breakers in both the CDU and SPD.

No party has haemorrhaged more support in recent years than the SPD, which has wilted as the junior partner governing in Merkel's shadow.

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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.

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.

Still, the CDU seemed to have avoided a worst-case scenario in Hesse: The potential humiliation of losing control of the state, as left-leaning parties appeared to have fallen short of the backing needed to form a government on their own.

With the emergence of a fresh crisis, Merkel may face difficulties when she stands for re-election as the CDU chair at the party's conference in December this year.

The Greens placed third, just barely trailing behind the Social Democrats with 19.5 percent of the votes. The anti-immigration, far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) movement secured 12.8% of the Hesse vote, and is now represented in all 16 electoral assemblies.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles said she would use a roadmap with which to measure the progress of the ruling coalition, which has been plagued by infighting, at a mid-term review next year.

Of the SPD, he added: "A party on the way down can not suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition".

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