Merkel says planned exit will not hurt her foreign standing
German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said she did not expect her global influence to be diminished in the run-up to her planned exit from politics in 2021, even as the race to succeed her gathered pace.
Mrs Merkel said on Monday she would not stand for re-election in December as leader of her centre-right CDU party, but that she planned to see out her fourth term as German leader.
The transition period set by Mrs Merkel is a long time in politics, and even CDU stalwarts are doubtful whether she can hold on to power until the end of her mandate.
Despite the uncertainties, Mrs Merkel, 64, insisted that she would not be hamstrung on the world stage.
“Nothing will change in my bargaining position in international negotiations,” the veteran leader said. “One might even say that I now have more time to concentrate on my tasks as government leader,” she said, given that she would no longer be CDU party chief from December. Analysts are not so sure. Lueder Gerken from the Centre for European Politics said that after announcing her decision, “the chancellor will hardly be able to convince the world that she can continue to be the guarantor of a certain degree of stability in the EU”.
Observers also note that she is no longer in charge of Germany’s political calendar.
“Whether Merkel will really govern as chancellor until 2021 and then leave politics as promised, or whether the events would suddenly become uncontrollable for her, is no longer up to her alone,” said news weekly Der Spiegel.
Wolfgang Schaeuble, president for the German parliament said “there are three years to go in the legislature period. We will see if that will really be the case”.
“She is maybe now no longer as strong as [she was] at the peak of her success,” Mr Schaeuble said.
An important factor would be who ends up taking over from “the eternal chancellor”, in power for 13 years and at the helm of her party for 18.
Three candidates plan to stand for the job, including CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, health minister Jens Spahn and former chief of the party’s parliamentary group Friedrich Merz.
Angela Merkel has been German chancellor for the past 13 years and head of her Christian Democratic Union party for 18