Germany's Angela Merkel Says Will Step Down As Chancellor In 2021

Germany's Angela Merkel Says Will Step Down As Chancellor In 2021

Germany's governing parties have lost significant support in a state election marked by discontent with infighting in Chancellor Angela Merkel's national government.

"With these latest results, it has simply become untenable that Merkel continues to lead the CDU", said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) came home first but polled just 28 percent of the vote, an exit poll for broadcaster ARD showed.

According to some sources now, CDU party leaders will meet next week to discuss on plans.

When Hesse last elected its state legislature in 2013 - on the same day that Mrs Merkel was triumphantly elected to a third term as chancellor - they won 38.3% and 30.7%, respectively.

The election campaign in prosperous Hesse, which includes Germany's financial centre of Frankfurt, has been largely overshadowed by the woes of a federal coalition in office only since March. "People want less fighting and more actual work done", he said.

The party's state leader, Volker Bouffier, called the outcome "very humbling". And this comes on top of the party's near wipeout in Bavaria earlier this month. Back in 2013, the CDU had to make a coalition with the Alliance 90/The Greens after the election resulted in no clear victor.

The SPD has suffered a string of regional defeats and last year's worst national election score since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949. Meanwhile, the right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) tripled its vote share from 2013 and allowing it to enter parliament for the first time with 13.2% of the vote. She is expected to be one of the candidates for party leadership. In projections throughout the evening, the outgoing CDU-Green coalition was forecast to win 61 seats out of 121, securing a razor-thin majority.

Merkel has dragged the CDU to the political centre in her years as leader, dropping military conscription, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children, and abruptly accelerating the shutdown of Germany's nuclear power plants following Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011. She has been chancellor for 13 years. Despite her party's historically poor result, she may be heaving a huge sigh of relief, too. But current polls show the CDU not even winning a quarter of the national vote. "Considering the circumstances, we can say that it's a clear mandate to lead the [Hesse] government", he said.

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

A growing swell of SPD members feel their party is tarnished by its alliance with Merkel and would be best to rebuild in opposition - a scenario SPD leader Andreas Nahles has resisted.

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

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