Merkel facing calls to step down as CDU party leader

Larry Hoffman
October 29, 2018

The CDU hosts its annual conference in December, and Merkel, who has governed Germany for the past 13 years, will be seeking re-election as party chairwoman.

Mrs Merkel has been leader of the CDU since 2000, and Chancellor for 13 years, a period which has seen her dominate European Union and world politics.

Mrs Merkel has been chair of the CDU since 2000, becoming one of its longest-serving chairpersons.

With political weakness at home, Merkel's ability to lead within the European Union will be increasingly limited as German voters lose confidence in the coalition government, further sending the European Union into political disarray as the European bloc now wrangles Brexit with the United Kingdom and a spiralling budget crisis with the Italian government, as well as the continued rise of extremist far-right political grassroots campaigns that have been springing up throughout Europe.

Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's CSU, and the Social Democrats.

The comments came as Mrs Merkel met the leadership of her party following the Hesse state election in which her Christian Democratic Union party lost ground.

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.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader told her party that despite stepping away from the leadership role, she wanted to remain chancellor. Meanwhile, the anti-establishment Alternative for Germany party, which advocates a stricter migration policy, has entered Hesse's Landtag for the first time with 13.1% of the vote and now holds seats in all of Germany's regional parliaments.

The instability has further eroded the credibility of the conservatives and the SPD in the eyes of German voters, who are increasingly turning to smaller parties on the right and on the left.

She also faces pressure from her Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partners, who have also bled support in Hesse and are under pressure to rethink their alliance with Merkel.

Back in 2013, the CDU had to make a coalition with the Alliance 90/The Greens after the election resulted in no clear victor.

Exit polls showed both of the formerly dominant parties being hit with losses of around 11 percentage points in Hesse compared with the last election in 2013, although the CDU still claimed first place on 27.2 percent of the vote.

She said her party would insist on Merkel's governing coalition agreeing on "a clear, binding timetable" for implementing projects, and that how that is implemented ahead of an already-agreed midterm review next fall will show "whether we are still in the right place in this government".

SPD chief Andrea Nahles said on Monday her centre-left party, Germany's oldest, had failed "to break free from the government" and stand out in its right.

Standing down now would allow the next party leader to build a profile before the next national election, which is due in 2021. Merkel's favored successor is CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

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