Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Germany's Angela Merkel prepares exit plan after party's poor election showing

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union party, Angela Merkel, closes her eyes while speaking after exploratory talks on forming a new government broke down on 19 November 2017 in Berlin. Meanwhile, the right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) tripled its vote share from 2013 and allowing it to enter parliament for the first time with 13.2% of the vote.

The outcome was an nearly exact replay of results in Bavaria two weeks ago, when the CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), was humiliated in a state where it has long governed without rivals.

Backing for Merkel's coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), also plummeted, falling from 31 per cent to 20 per cent - a low not seen in 72 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.

It had been widely assumed that this would be Merkel's final term as chancellor, but before the reported remarks, she had not confirmed that herself.

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.

A senior CDU member told Reuters that party leaders wanted to discuss the possibility of Ms Merkel reversing her decision to seek re-election as party chairwoman in December.

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.

When Hesse last elected its state legislature in 2013 - on the same day that Mrs Merkel was triumphantly elected to a third term as chancellor - they won 38.3% and 30.7%, respectively.

The unexpected reversal by Merkel, 64, signals the beginning of the end of an era during which her command of Germany put its stamp on Europe and beyond for more than a decade.

The CDU has governed Hesse for almost 20 years, and the party campaigned on an enviable record in the state of ultra-low unemployment, high wages and minimal crime. It is the latest in a line of weak performances for parties in Merkel's ruling coalition, signalling a broader shift in German politics.

And Mr. Bouffier, noting that his party fared better in the Hesse vote than it now does in polls nationally, seems keen to stay in power.

She told party top brass her mandate running to 2021 will be "her last term", a party source said, adding that she has no plans to seek a post in the European Commission following that despite speculation to that effect in Brussels.

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

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Sunday it would be "a mistake" for Merkel to cling to power.

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