Published: Tue, October 30, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Difficult Merkel ally says step-down is a shame

Difficult Merkel ally says step-down is a shame

Mass-circulation daily Bild reported, citing sources in the CDU leadership, that Merkel said she would not run again for the party leadership. "I have said over the past few days that Angela Merkel knows best what to do, and now she has decided". "Of course, we in the Christian Democrats are not happy".

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, secretary general of the CDU, is seen October 21 in Berlin during the election campaign.

Merkel's preferred successor as leader of her conservatives, CDU Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has also warned the SPD that pulling out of the ruling coalition after the Hesse vote would trigger a federal election.

Taking a decisive step towards the end of her political career, the veteran leader who has led Germany for 13 years said she hoped her planned departure would end bitter fighting in her coalition and finally focus it on its task of governing Europe's biggest economy.

She said she took "full responsibility" for recent election setbacks. Their coalition partner, the SPD, also suffered grave losses.

The announcement comes after her party's vote dropped 10 percent during an election on Tuesday in the German state of Hesse. It confirms the country's once traditional parties are in decline and are seen by a swathe of the electorate as no longer representing them adequately.

The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12 percent of the vote, the ARD exit poll showed.

The Hesse vote is demonstrating how Germany has become "politically adrift and fragmented with its political center, commonly known as Volksparteien, imploding", said Frederick Kempe, president of the Atlantic Council, the Washington-based think tank.

What it means for Merkel?

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Despite her global standing, Merkel has no plans to seek a post in the European Commission after bowing out of German politics, the CDU source told AFP, despite speculation to that effect in Brussels. It also proves that Merkel has not lost her instinct for survival even as she is on her way down.

That may well end up being the most prominent part of Merkel's legacy.

In her announcement, Merkel said she would be focusing her foreign policy on Brexit and USA plans to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

The nationalist, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti-euro party surged to third place in the country's national election last September.

Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrats' leader, said that "the state of the government is unacceptable".

The result in Hesse "is therefore the final piece of evidence that the AfD has established itself within the German party system", Carsten Nickel, a German politics expert at political risks consultancy Teneo Intelligence, wrote in a note on Sunday.

Its loss increases the instability of the CDU's grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party, with whom the CDU rules in Berlin.

Merkel's coalition was twice on the brink of collapse, once over immigration policy and then over a dispute about the fate of the domestic intelligence chief who was accused of harbouring far-right views. "It seems ever less likely he will receive this support from Berlin".

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