The German chancellor, who has chaired the ruling Christian Democratic Union since 2000, was expected to compete again at the party congress in Hamburg in early December.
On Sunday, her party suffered another major setback in local elections, this time in the state of Hesse. The CDU managed to get 28 percent of the vote, which marks a massive drop from the 38.3 percent won during Hesse’s last election in 2013.
The 64-year-old Merkel has decided not to stand for re-election as well as to give up the chancellorship. She said on Monday that she wants to serve her full term as German chancellor until 2021. Merkel also ruled out running for any senior positions in the European Union.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggested that possible candidates to replace Merkel could include CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, or North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister President Armin Laschet. Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the CDU/CSU coalition in the Bundestag, was reportedly also named as a possible successor.
Speaking on the election in Hesse, independent political observer Steven Meissner told RT that the chancellor “is getting weaker and weaker and more unpopular.”
She is more of a liability for her party than she is a positive fact
Merkel, who has been the leader of Europe’s powerhouse for over a decade, secured her fourth term as chancellor in March after months of political gambling. The latter has been caused by a solid drop in support for an alliance of her CDU and sister-party CSU secured in September 2017. Back then, both managed to get only 33 percent of the vote in the German parliamentary election. Merkel’s major partner from the grand coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), also suffered historic losses.
With support for the ruling parties plummeting, the Euroskeptic and anti-establishment Alternative for Germany (AfD) is steadily gaining ground. After its breakthroughs in Hesse and Bavaria, it now holds parliamentary seats in every single German state (and in the Bundestag).
Following the Hesse success, AfD parliamentary leader, Alice Weidel, said that her party is now “firmly anchored” in the German parliament and is “here to stay.”