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VIDEO: German chancellor Merkel says she won’t seek re-election

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. (Arno Mikkor/Flickr)
October 29, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Monday that she will not pursue a fifth term.

Merkel said she will not pursue any political positions after her term ends in 2021, after which she will have been in power for 16 years, CNBC reported Monday.

“This term is my last as chancellor,” she said, according to a translated report. “I will not be seeking re-election as a CDU lawmaker. I will not be seeking any political posts after the current terms ends in 2021.”

Merkel’s announcement trails the regional elections in which her party, the Christian Democrats Union (CDU), suffered poor results. She called the results “disappointing and bitter” after falling to 27 percent in the polls, the party’s worst performance since 1966, according to The Guardian.

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“The government has lost credibility,” Merkel said of the poor results.

Merkel will step down as party leader ahead of time, allowing the party to select and prepare her successor. Two suspected candidates are Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Jens Spahn who also revealed their candidacy on Monday, although Merkel has not endorsed either of them.

“It is worth noting at this point that the chancellor is elected by the Bundestag (German Parliament) while the leader of the CDU is elected by CDU party members. Hence, they can be held by two different people,” said J.P. Morgan economist Greg Fuzesi.

However, he noted that Merkel’s separation from both roles will “weaken her position as chancellor.”

“If she manages to stay on as chancellor after the CDU elects a new leader, probably on December 7, she would still be seen as a lame duck,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg.

“By relinquishing her role at the helm of the CDU voluntarily, she may try to head off a challenge from a potential successor which, if successful, could also have toppled her as chancellor,” Schmieding added.

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The latest election saw voters vastly turning away from Merkel and her party, resulting in heavy losses for the CDU and their partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Instead, they opted for the left-wing Greens, or the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD). Greens amassed nearly 20 percent of the vote, while AfD drew 13 percent.

“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,” said Carsten Nickel, managing director at consultant group Teneo.

“Rather than outright instability in Germany and Europe, it simply means a continuation of the current leadership vacuum,” Nickel added.