Angela Merkel will step down as Germany's chancellor in 2021

Angela Merkel will step down as Germany's chancellor in 2021

Angela Merkel will step down as Germany's chancellor in 2021

In the turbulent times of Trump, Brexit and multiple global crises, Merkel came to be hailed overseas as the new "leader of the free world", a label she was quick to reject as "absurd".

Angela Merkel told her conservative party on Monday that she intends to step down as its leader but remain Germany's chancellor following a pair of state election debacles, German media reported.

Merkel, 64, has been chairwoman of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

"Firstly, at the next CDU party congress in December in Hamburg, I will not put myself forward again as candidate for the CDU chair", she told reporters, drawing the consequences of setbacks for the CDU in a regional vote on Sunday.

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.

Two weeks ago, two of the parties in Merkel's federal "grand coalition" of what have traditionally been Germany's strongest political forces - the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister to Merkel's CDU, and the Social Democrats - were battered in a state election in neighbouring Bavaria.

Her CDU party was severely weakened in elections in the state of Hesse on Sunday, the latest poor performance by parties in her coalition government. Her fourth-term government took office only in March but has become notorious for squabbling.

Others include two state premiers Armin Laschet and Daniel Guenther, who carry weight after recently leading the CDU to victory in regional elections.

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.

Merkel, who is thought to be preparing a slow withdrawal from politics, had previously indicated she would stand for the position, potentially for the last time.

The CSU, led by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, lost 10 percent in comparison with the 2013 election and scored its worst result in 50 years, which was branded "painful" and "bitter" both by the CSU and CDU.

Hesse's conservative governor, Volker Bouffier, told supporters that "the message this evening to the parties in the government in Berlin is clear: people want less argument, more objectivity, more solutions".

While she may have gained the accolade of Time Person of the Year in 2015 for allowing over 1 million refugees into the country, not all voters have hailed this as a success. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

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