Angela Merkel 'to quit as party leader but remain Germany's chancellor'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for another round of pre-talks on forming a new German government at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin Friday Nov. 17 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for another round of pre-talks on forming a new German government at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin Friday Nov. 17 2017

After the election, an Infratest Dimap poll found that nearly all AfD supporters worry that German culture and way of life is under threat.

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

"I think it's a pity, I think she did a fantastic job, but sadly she has lost support".

She told a closed meeting of Christian Democratic Union party leaders on Monday morning that she would not run as the party's chair in December, Deutsche Welle and Bloomberg reported.

Her announcement comes amid growing concerns about far-right nationalist parties making inroads in Europe, including Germany.

"The naked numbers of the results in Hesse are very disappointing and bitter and it doesn't help that this state election was just a state election".

His supporters argue that Spahn's appointment as party leader would mark a generational change and a true end of the Merkel era, which critics have associated with a lack of inner-party discourse and an embrace of issues traditionally more associated with liberal or left-wing parties.

She said she would stay on as German Chancellor until her term expires in 2021. Today, the two parties are losing great chunks of support to parties on the left and right, though more so on the right, even if the CDU and SPD together still command the greatest share of the vote.

This would be in contrast to Mrs Merkel's previous position, in which she has linked the party leadership role to the chancellorship - meaning that she would only remain chancellor if she was party leader.

The move will likely fire the starting gun within the party to potentially succeed Ms Merkel as chancellor.

Merkel standing down from the party chair would allow a new CDU chairman or chairwoman to build a profile before the next national election.

Her term as Chancellor was expected to run until 2021. Their coalition partner, the SPD, also suffered grave losses.

But at home, even a change-averse electorate has started to grow tired of the leader dubbed "Mutti" (Mummy) and the cautious and glacial style of consensus politics her coalition government is now associated with. If things go well, "it could have a positive effect for us and our work together".

Volker Bouffier, the incumbent CDU state premier in Hesse and a Merkel ally, said his party had achieved its goal of being able to lead the next government in Hesse, but added: "We are in pain because of the losses". Capturing only 33 per cent of the vote, Ms. Merkel's CDU spent nearly six months trying to cobble together a coalition, eventually resorting to the vastly diminished SPD to form a government.

It had been widely assumed this would be Merkel's final term in office, but the comments were the chancellor's first public confirmation.

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. She also took the opportunity to take a jab at Seehofer, saying that others may draw some interesting conclusions after Merkel's announcement. She has been chancellor for 13 years.

Observers see Merkel decision as a further sign of her dwindling political power.

She swung her conservatives behind bailouts for Greece and other struggling eurozone nations, striking a balance between calls for a strict approach at home and more generosity overseas. The SPD meanwhile, slipped to fifth place behind the eurosceptic, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

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