German leader Angela Merkel announced at a press conference on Monday that she will step down as Chancellor at the end of her term in 2021 and withdraw from the political life.
She also confirmed that she would not run for the presidency of her party, the CDU, in December at the next congress.
Her decision follows a new electoral setback on Sunday in regional elections in Hesse. The CDU came in first, with 27 percent of the vote, but posted a ten-point drop compared to the 2013 elections. In mid-October, the Christian Social Union (CSU), historical ally of the CDU was also suffered at the hands of voters in Bavaria, during the regional elections.
“The CDU has not been able to convince enough voters, said the Chancellor. Yesterday’s election must be a break. There must be a chance for the CDU, the CSU and the SPD [the ruling Social Democrat Party] to identify the elements of peace in the country and live together. “
Angela Merkel took over the leadership of the CDU on 10 April, 2000, succeeding Wolfgang Schäuble, a former Kohl government figure involved in the “black box business,” an illegal party financing scandal.
For several months, the Chancellor has been fighting for the continuation of her coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), but it appears on the brink of implosion following electoral failures for both parties in Hesse and Bavaria.
The popularity of the chancellor has steadily waned since her decision to open the borders to more than a million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016, while the far right has capitalised on popular discontent and grown steadily in the polls.
Several candidates are profiling to succeed Angela Merkel. Three have already registered their candidacy: Friedrich Merz, former president of the parliamentary group; Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer,the current secretary general of the party who is close to Angela Merkel; and Jens Spahn, current Minister of Health and one of the opposition figures against the Chancellor inside the CDU. The chancellor declined to comment on these candidacies.