Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Merkel party suffers heavy losses in key regional election

Merkel party suffers heavy losses in key regional election

Angela Merkel finally took action to stem the growing panic within her coalition government on Monday when she announced she would step down as leader of her Christian Democrat party (CDU) in December.

A loss for Bouffier would make life more hard for Merkel, who has indicated that she plans to seek another two-year term as CDU leader at a congress in December.

Angela Merkel said she was stepping down as CDU chair and remaining German Chancellor.

She now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union, and the center-left Social Democrats.

The 64-year-old chancellor's personal popularity remains solid but she appeared keen to launch an orderly transition period amid signs that her authority is eroding.

Ms. Merkel's conservatives dropped to 27.5% of the vote in Hesse-home to Germany's financial industry-while the Social Democrats, the Chancellor's junior coalition partners in the federal government, were reduced to 19.9%, according to exit polls by the ZDF broadcaster.

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.

Angela Merkel says she will step down as German chancellor at the end of her term in 2021, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.

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At least four candidates declared their interest to seek Merkel´s job after she made her stunning announcement.

Market reaction was muted with the euro remaining above last week's low against the dollar on the news, which followed setbacks for Merkel's CDU-led bloc in regional elections this month.

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.

Seemingly devoid of vanity and indifferent to the trappings of power, she lives in a Berlin flat with her media-shy scientist husband Joachim Sauer, shops in a local supermarket, enjoys watching football and spends holidays hiking in the Alps.

For years, Merkel has insisted that the chancellor should also be party leader. Three-quarters of voters said they want the Greens to stay in government, a survey found.

In Germany, parties like the far-right AfD and the Greens have grown in national support following the country's 2017 general election, as support for the major centre parties has waned.

An election Sunday in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the Social Democrats lose significant ground amid gains for both the Green party and the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Today, the two parties are losing great chunks of support to parties on the left and right, though more so on the right, even if the CDU and SPD together still command the greatest share of the vote.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, secretary general of the CDU, is seen October 21 in Berlin during the election campaign.

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