High stakes for Merkel's govt as German state of Hesse votes

German governing parties punished in state election

The Latest: Merkel reportedly ready to step down from party

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed on Monday she would not seek re-election as chairwoman of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December, heralding the beginning of the end of her 13-year era of dominance in European politics.

Mrs Merkel has reportedly told CDU party leaders that she will step aside from the leadership election bid after the centre-right party and the centre-left SPD both took a hit in ballots in Hesse state at the weekend.

Ms Merkel named Brexit and US-Russia relations as the two biggest issues to work on during her remaining time as chancellor.

Five years later she became the German Chancellor - a position she has held for 18 years.

The country's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) on Sunday secured about 12% of the vote and will enter the region's assembly for the first time.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's once-unassailable position in German politics endured yet another blow today as support for her party dropped precipitously in a state that has always been a bellwether for the nation, projected results showed.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles, whose party saw support fall to its lowest since 1946, threatened to end the alliance with Merkel's conservatives if there is no improvement on policy.

The party's state leader, Volker Bouffier, called the outcome "very humbling".

Germany's central region of Hesse was voting Sunday in a state election marked by discontent with infighting in the national government - and its results could help determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration has a long-term future. At the federal election in 2021, I will not stand again as chancellor candidate, nor as a candidate for the Bundestag, and. The dismal performance poured further scorn over Merkel's authority as a leader of the CDU.

Seemingly devoid of vanity and indifferent to the trappings of power, she lives in a Berlin flat with her media-shy scientist husband Joachim Sauer, shops in a local supermarket, enjoys watching football and spends holidays hiking in the Alps.

Speaking on October 15, Merkel admitted that voters had lost trust in the government and that it was her job to "make sure that trust is won back".

"The CDU faces a turning point", Mike Mohring, a regional party leader from eastern Germany, told Welt television.

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.

In one of her most debated moves, Merkel allowed large numbers of asylum-seekers into Germany in 2015, many of them fleeing the fighting in Syria, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach to migration.

The nosedive in support for Merkel's party in Hesse, known as Hessen in Germany, was predicted by polls ahead of the crucial election.

Just two weeks earlier, Merkel's conservative CSU sister party suffered a similar drubbing in Bavaria.

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