Merkel’s CDU makes huge losses in Hesse election

29 October, 2018, 15:34 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference following the Hesse state election in Berlin

The chancellor has indicated that she will seek another two-year term as CDU leader in December.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will step down from leading the Christian Democratic Union and won't seek re-election, rattling the political scene in Germany and setting the stage for her to be eventually replaced in her country's highest office.

Her current term as chancellor runs into 2021 - and Merkel said she is "prepared" to stay in the chancellor post through her current term.

This comes as she is been facing calls to quit from her own conservatives to cede the party's leadership today, further eroding her authority after painful losses in a regional election.

The decision to stand down from the CDU chairmanship signifies Merkel-who has been chancellor since 2005-is aware her time at the top of German politics is nearing its end.

According to an exit poll in Hesse state by public broadcaster ARD, Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) shed around 10 points for a 28-per cent score, compared with 38.3 per cent in 2013.

Possible contenders include Health Minister Jens Spahn, who has publicly criticized her open-doors refugee policy and is championed by the CDU's social conservatives; Ralph Brinkhaus, a fiscal hawk who unexpectedly ousted Merkel's longtime parliamentary caucus leader; and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, her hand-picked party general secretary who's often cited as her most likely successor.

The Social Democrats only reluctantly entered Merkel's fourth-term national government in March, and many are dismayed by what has happened since.

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An election Sunday in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the Social Democrats lose significant ground, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

Her CDU party and SPD coalition won the election but haemorrhaged support leaving the partnership teetering on a knife-edge.

However, the SPD's historic losses could mean yet more pain for the chancellor's already troubled government coalition in Berlin.

The poor result for Germany's two biggest parties, just weeks after a similar defeat in Bavaria, underscores voters' increasing frustration with the embattled "grand coalition" that governs them.

The CDU suffered numerous setbacks in regional elections. The CDU is due to elect a new party chair at a conference in December.

She allowed large numbers of asylum-seekers into Germany in 2015, many fleeing the fighting in Syria, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

She has since defended her decision, saying she would make the decision "the same way again".

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