Angela Merkel won't seek re-election as CDU party leader - German media

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down as party leader

Stepping down as CDU chairwoman further undermines Merkel's authority, which has been dented this year by the two regional election setbacks and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives' parliamentary group.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday that she would not seek re-election when her term expires in 2021.

Two weeks ago, two of the parties in Merkel's federal "grand coalition" of what have traditionally been Germany's strongest political forces - the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister to Merkel's CDU, and the Social Democrats - were battered in a state election in neighbouring Bavaria. It was the worst result in the region for the Social Democrats since World War II.

The behaviour of one of Germany's most senior Bavarian politicians - he even announced he would leave office a couple of times, without following through - seemed erratic to many, but Seehofer's deliberate provocations also seemed to show Merkel's dwindling political power.

She said that she's known since the summer break that she no longer wanted to be the CDU chairman and that during the party's conference in December she will not run again for the position. Merkel's CDU party narrowly finished in first place, while suffering an 11-point drop from the last election in 2013.

The Social Democrats' leader, Andrea Nahles, said she hopes the CDU leadership contest will end arguments within Merkel's bloc about its direction and leaders.

Today, the AfD sits in the national Bundestag and every state assembly, having poached millions of votes from Merkel's big-party alliance, which has plummeted in the polls and suffered a string of defeats.

United Kingdom traders 'out of time' to cope with no-deal Brexit
And we know that's not the case as he hasn't held the ballot". But they do not agree on how to achieve that. That can not be willed away by any of us.

Following the close election results, the SPD's leader, Andrea Nahles, has announced a mid-term review of the current coalition government next year, taking the declining voting numbers as a sign that the German electorate is growing exhausted of the coalition's constant in-fighting and lack of progress on bringing legislative change to Germany.

Merkel had until now always insisted that the posts of party chief and chancellor in Europe's top economy should be held by the same person.

"This would have been unthinkable in 2013, when she nearly won an outright majority in the Federal elections", he added. But according to German public radio, Merkel wants to stay on even after handing over the party leadership.

Ms Merkel's decision to step down after her fourth term sets in motion the process for the CDU to settle on and groom her successor, for which party secretary-general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is favoured.

Observers believe Bouffier losing power or a disastrous result for Schaefer-Guembel would further destabilize Merkel's federal coalition.

She allowed in large numbers of asylum seekers in 2015, declaring "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.

She said she hopes to open the way for "new success for the CDU" by letting it prepare for her departure as chancellor, and she won't interfere with the choice of a successor.

Her proposal did little to appease the head of the SPD's youth wing, who said the election in Hesse was a clear signal that the ruling coalition was not viable.

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