MERKEL QUITS AS PARTY LEADER AFTER SECOND ELECTORAL ROUT




Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE)- Angela Merkel has bowed to the inevitable and announced that she will not seek re-election as party leader in December. It is not yet clear whether this means she will also resign as Chancellor of Germany when a successor has been chosen as head of her Christian Democrat party. It seems she wishes to stay on but this may not be politically possible.

The German Chancellor aged 64, has been CDU chairwoman since 2000 and giving up the role will start a race within the party to succeed her as head of the German government.

Both parties in Angela Merkel's governing coalition have suffered heavy losses in a regional election with national implications.

Her Centre-right CDU party and the Centre-left SPD were each 11% down on the previous election in Hesse state. All other parties gained, notably the Greens and the Alternative for Germany (Afd) that each gained 9%.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles said the federal government's poor performance had ‘significantly’ contributed to the disappointing result. She told journalists the state of the government was ‘unacceptable’. The federal government must find a ‘reasonable way of working’, after the SPD's worst result in the western state since 1946.

The CDU must agree to a ‘clear, binding roadmap’ ahead of a scheduled coalition review next year. ‘Then we'll be able to check whether this government is still the right place for us,’ she said.

Both the CDU and the SPD have seen their support slip nationally in recent months, and the coalition has already come close to collapse over the immigration crisis and pressure from Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CDU Bavarian partner CSU party.

The left-leaning Greens surged into third place in the Hesse regional government, with about 19.8%.

The anti-immigrant, anti-Euro AfD will enter the regional assembly for the first time, having secured a higher than expected 13.1% of the vote. The party is now represented in all German states.

‘The message to the parties ruling in Berlin is people want fewer disputes and more focus on the important issues,’ state premier and CDU member Volker Bouffier told supporters.

It is clear that they also want new stronger leadership in a difficult changing world with increasingly powerful Eastern countries and a truculent insecure United States under President Trump.

Her rejection by German voters has important implications for the future of the European Union. Merkel staunchly defended the Eurozone as presently organized. Within her party resistance to it has grown through fear that Germany is in danger of losing up to a trillion euros if debtor Eurozone members default on their debts. Italy currently owes 500 billion euros under the Target2 system of inter Eurozone payments.

The French government under the extreme pro-European Emmanuel Macron will be concerned that they are now faced with another prolonged period of political uncertainty on the other side of the Rhine that is likely to end with a more Euro-sceptic German Chancellor.