Germany's Merkel prepares to give up party job

Germany's Merkel prepares to give up party job

Germany's Merkel prepares to give up party job

"Today it is time to begin a new chapter", she told reporters at her party headquarters.

Merkel had earlier informed her centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) that she would not stand again to be the party chairman at a congress in December to make way for new leadership.

She has been the party's chairwoman since 2000 and giving up the role would start a race within the party to succeed her as chancellor.

Merkel also reportedly said that she won't seek re-election to parliament after its current term ends, indicating that this will be her final term as chancellor - something that had been widely assumed but that Merkel has not until now confirmed.

Merkel, chancellor for 13 years, will have to invest her political capital and tactical acumen to keep together her loveless coalition, borne out of necessity seven months ago after an inconclusive federal election last year.

The exit poll for broadcaster ARD showed only 13 percent of CDU voters believed Merkel had helped the party in Hesse, down from 70 percent at the last state election, reflecting voter anger at her decision in 2015 to welcome nearly one million, mainly Muslim asylum seekers.

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.

The Social Democrats only reluctantly entered Merkel's fourth-term national government in March, and many are dismayed by what has happened since.

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In September past 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.

Her CDU party and SPD coalition won the election but haemorrhaged support leaving the partnership teetering on a knife-edge.

In Bavarian elections on October 15, Merkel's coalition partner the CSU lost its majority in the regional parliament for the first time since 1957.

Merkel has been heralded as both a hero and villain for her open-door refugee policy in Germany.

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

He said that it's important to avoid "long personnel debates" and restore people's confidence in the CDU as a governing party. However, the CDU's share of the vote fell by more than 11 points, to 27% - marking the worst result for the party since 1962.

She allowed in large numbers of asylum seekers in 2015, declaring "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach. That decision has led to lasting tensions in her conservative Union bloc, particularly with the CDU's Bavaria-only sister party, the CSU, and helped the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party gain support.

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