Merkel’s CDU makes huge losses in Hesse election

Merkel’s CDU makes huge losses in Hesse election

Merkel will step down as chancellor when her current mandate runs out in 2021, a party source told AFP Monday, adding that she has no plans to seek a post in the European Commission following that despite speculation to that effect in Brussels.

Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his centre-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor until he narrowly lost an election 18 months later.

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's weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the European Union at a time when the bloc is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy and the prospect of populist parties making gains at European parliament elections next May.

Angela Merkel's ruling coalition suffered heavy losses for the second time in as many weeks in a German state election that is likely to have national repercussions.

She told a closed Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leadership meeting on Monday morning that she would not run as its chair in December, Deutsche Welle and Bloomberg reported.

The Social Democrats' leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded Sunday a "clear, binding timetable" for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.


Projections for ARD and ZDF public television, based on exit polls and partial counting, gave the CDU 27-28 per cent support and the centre-left Social Democrats almost 20 per cent.

Die Welt reporter Robin Alexander said the path could now be clear for Merkel's chosen heir, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, to take the reins if no other credible candidate emerges by December.

Voters have appeared generally satisfied with Bouffier's outgoing state government. According to Deutsche Welle, as news of Merkel's move spread, Christian Lindner, who leads the center-right Free Democrats (FDP), said, "She's quitting the wrong office".

The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12.8 percent of the vote, the ZDF projection showed.

"Secondly, this fourth term is my last as German chancellor".

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen hailed news of Merkel's eventual exit as "good news" and said he expected her to also "give up her chancellorship soon".

The government has been through two major crises, first over whether to turn back small numbers of migrants at the German-Austrian border and then over what to do with the head of Germany's domestic intelligence service after he was accused of downplaying far-right violence against migrants.

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