Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Merkel to give up CDU chair after 18 years: Party source

Green politicians Tarek Al-Wazir Priska Hinz and Annalena Baerbock at an election rally in Frankfurt last week. The party is enjoying a surge in popularity in Germany High stakes for Merkel's govt as German state of Hesse votes
Jay Anderson | 29 October, 2018, 14:09

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.

The weakness that Merkel faces on the home front, could limit her capacity to lead in the European Union, as the block now is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy, and possibility of populist parties gain popularity at European parliament elections in May.

The parties of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left "grand coalition" took a beating on Sunday, strengthening fears that the second tough regional election in as many weeks could threaten the alliance's survival.

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".

Sources quoted in German media say she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman at a conference in December.

That decision has led to lasting tensions in her conservative Union bloc, particularly with the CDU's Bavaria-only sister party, the CSU, and helped the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party gain support.

Ms Merkel, chancellor for 13 years, will have to invest her political capital and tactical acumen to keep together her loveless coalition, borne out of necessity seven months ago after an inconclusive federal election last year.




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 party almost doubled its support from 2013, picking off defectors from both the CDU and the SPD.

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.

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 SPD plunged to its worst result in decades to tie for second place with the up-and-coming ecologist Greens, each at 19.8 percent. "Any conceivable coalition in Berlin would still be dominated by the mainstream parties CDU/CSU, SPD, Greens and the smaller Liberals".

Nahles declined to comment Monday on the reports that Merkel might step down as CDU leader.

Of the SPD, he added: "A party on the way down can not suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition".

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