Merkel Resigns from CDU
On October 29, Angela Merkel announced in an address to her party that she will not be seeking re-election as Germany’s chancellor when her office term ends in 2021. Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered heavy losses in regional elections in the German state of Hesse. Merkel took responsibility for the CDU’S losses in the local elections, and confirmed to party members that she will not run again for the leadership of the party come December. The party’s decline in popularity is related to the rising rightwing and anti-immigration sentiments, notably in the form of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party. The question is now whether Merkel will be able to last her full term. It is speculated that the current coalition between her party and the Social Democrats may collapse before the next national elections, in which case a snap election would be called.
Whichever direction the upcoming elections take, changes at the top of Germany’s political hierarchy can have important implications for all of Europe; the announcement of Merkel’s resignation itself has shaken confidence in the Euro within the region. Her successor will face major challenges. Reshaping the European Union after Brexit, Europe’s response to refugees, strengthening European unity, and clashes with governments in the west (the United States and the Trump Administration), and to the east (Russia and the Kremlin) are all factors the next chancellor must deal with. Merkel has confirmed that she will not be formally backing any of the candidates for the position.