Angela Merkel To Step Down As Leader Of Her Party But Remain As Chancellor Of Germany

Angela Merkel To Step Down As Leader Of Her Party But Remain As Chancellor Of Germany

Angela Merkel is to stand down as leader of her party but wants to remain as chancellor of Germany, according to reports.

Ms Merkel has led the Christian Democrats since 2000 and been chancellor since 2005.

Sources quoted in German media say she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman at a conference in December.

The move will likely fire the starting gun within the party to potentially succeed Ms Merkel as chancellor.

Standing down now would allow the next party leader to build a profile before the next national election, which is due in 2021.

Ms Merkel's decision follows a drop in support in a state election in Hesse, the second such electoral setback for her conservative alliance.

After 13 years in power, it also appears that her domestic appeal is on the wane.

In last year's general election Ms Merkel saw a drop in support and was forced to form a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats following an inconclusive result.

Ms Merkel's domestic troubles could have a knock-on effect for the European Union, with Berlin one of the power-brokers in the bloc.

The EU is trying to negotiate a Brexit deal with Britain, deal with a budget crisis in Italy and faces the prospect of populist anti-establishment parties making gains in the European Parliament elections in May.

The euro fell as reports of Ms Merkel's decision emerged.

The move is not unprecedented in German politics.

Ms Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his party in 2004 and remained chancellor for another 18 months.

By Alan McGuinness, Sky News

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