İn an announcement on Monday, Merkel also said she would step down as leader of her conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU party, in December. Merkel, who is 64, has served as chancellor since 2005. She has led the CDU since 2000. Her decision to step down as party leader came after the CDU suffered setbacks in local elections in recent weeks.
Merkel currently leads Germany as part of a “grand coalition” of the country’s biggest political parties. These include the CDU and its partner in the southern state of Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, or CSU. The center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, is also part of the coalition. Her current coalition began its leadership in March after six months of difficult political negotiations.
Her party’s latest election setback happened Sunday in the central state of Hesse. Merkel’s CDU party narrowly finished in first place, while suffering an 11-point drop from the last election in 2013. The SPD also suffered losses. Sunday’s voting followed a state election in Bavaria two weeks ago, in which the SPD and CSU also suffered major setbacks.
The losses came as support has increased for Germany’s Green Party as well as the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, or AfD. Merkel told reporters in Berlin that, after leading the CDU for 18 years, she felt “today it is time to start a new chapter.”
Merkel added that she would “not aim for any other political office.”
Observers had widely expected that Merkel would not seek another term in office after 2021. But her announcement marked the first public confirmation of it.
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