Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Difficult Merkel ally says step-down is a shame

Merkel Faces Test of Her Authority in German Regional Vote Merkel Faces Test of Her Authority in German Regional Vote
Lisa Bryan | 29 October, 2018, 14:10

After 18 years as party chief, the move throws open the succession race for a post that has traditionally has been the springboard for CDU chancellors.

After 13 years with Merkel at the helm, majority in coalition with the SPD, many Germans are exhausted of government by carefully-crafted compromise, calling instead for clear direction on pressing policy issues like migration, security, reform of the European Union and climate change.

Merkel, 64, had previously indicated that she planned to seek another two-year term as leader of her Christian Democratic Union at a December party congress, but appeared to be moving quickly to acknowledge pressure for renewal as her fourth-term government struggles to gain traction.

Hesse State Prime Minister Volker Bouffier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend the final campaign rally prior to the upcoming state election, in Fulda, Germany, October 25, 2018.

Increasing numbers of SPD members are calling for the party to quit government immediately and lick its wounds in opposition, as it is presently polling below AfD nationwide, at 15 percent to the far-right's 16 percent.

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.

She argued that the three governing parties should instead, after the Hesse vote, prioritize a few policies and implement them as "an important signal" to Germans of the government's effectiveness.

Electoral momentum is on the side of newer parties, the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany and the left-leaning ecologist Greens.


The Greens, who have governed Hesse in coalition with the CDU over the last 5 years, were neck-and-neck with the SPD, also securing 19.8% of the vote.

No party has haemorrhaged more support in recent years than the SPD, which has wilted as the junior partner governing in Merkel's shadow.

Armed with Nahles's checklist, by September 2019 the SPD "will be able to see whether this government is still the right place for us", the party leader said in an implicit threat to the chancellor.

Standing down from the party chair would allow a new CDU chairman or woman to build a profile before the next national election, due in 2021.

"No-one can say with 100 percent certainty how stable things will stay, what kind of dynamics will emerge" after the election, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday.

Earlier today she announced she would not stand for re-election as leader of the CDU during the selection process in December.

Carsten Nickel, managing director at political consultancy firm Teneo, said: "We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel's mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: the gradual but steady erosion of her political power".

In September a year ago, Merkel's CDU party won the general election but more than 13% of the voting population chose the right-wing nationalists AfD, which are anti-Islam and anti-refugee.

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