Angela Merkel says she will step down as German Chancellor in 2021

Speaking at a meeting of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union on Monday, a day after a bruising state poll in Hesse, Merkel told top brass that she planned to give up the party leadership, a role she has held for 18 years.

Angela Merkel told her conservative party on Monday that she is prepared to step down as its leader but remain Germany's chancellor following a pair of state election debacles. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.

The move means the party will have to find a new leader in December.

As Merkel's power within her own party is fading, being so closely associated with the Chancellor could still disrupt Kramp-Karrenbauer's plans to take over as party leader. Merkel has walked a fine line, criticizing some of Trump's decisions while emphasizing that a good relationship with Washington is "central" to her government. "Angela Merkel knows quite clearly that she is living through the last months or through the past year of her chancellorship", Werner Patzelt, a politics professor at the Technical University in Dresden, told NBC News.

Merkel has dragged the CDU to the political centre in her years as leader, dropping military conscription, introducing benefits encouraging fathers to look after their young children, and abruptly accelerating the shutdown of Germany's nuclear power plants following Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Merkel's coalition partner in Berlin, the Social Democrats (SPD), tanked to 19.8% in a dead heat with the resurgent Green party for second place.

Merkel rounded up all her decisions in one sentence - that she will not stand for any political office once her mandate as chancellor expires in 2021.

The Social Democrats only reluctantly entered Merkel's fourth-term national government in March, and many are dismayed by what has happened since.

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"Merkel said national politics had had a regrettable negative influence on the results in Hesse, calling them 'disappointing and bitter, '" reports The Guardian.

A number of potential successors to the Merkel throne have already been named in German media, with Die Welt including leading conservative Friedrich Merz - who Merkel ousted from a party leadership position in 2002 - and CDU Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

But despite her assurance that she would step down in 2021, some doubt she could even make it to the end of her term.

In Bavarian elections on October 15, Merkel's coalition partner the CSU lost its majority in the regional parliament for the first time since 1957.

Nahles said on Sunday she would propose a roadmap to allow the SPD to measure the progress of the ruling coalition, which has been plagued by infighting, at a mid-term review next year.

The parties also had a poor result in Bavarian elections earlier this month.

She said she hopes to open the way for "new success for the CDU" by letting it prepare for her departure as chancellor, and she won't interfere with the choice of a successor. It was the worst result in the region for the Social Democrats since World War II. Such an outcome would increase pressure from the SPD's rank-and-file for the party to pull out of the coalition with Merkel in Berlin.

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