From 'Pity' to Resignation Demands: Germany Rocked by Decline of Merkel Era

German governing parties punished in state election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will be stepping down as chancellor when her term ends in 2021.

BERLIN-Germany's governing parties lost significant support in a state election Sunday that was marked by discontent with infighting in Chancellor Angela Merkel's national government and prompted calls for her administration to get its act together quickly.

Ms Merkel's decision to step down echoes that of her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, who quit as leader of his centre-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor.

In Germany, many begged to differ, especially the anti-immigration and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose angriest rallying cry is "Merkel must go".

The announcement is a sign of Merkel's weakened power within her own party, and waning popularity in the country.

Merkel now governs Germany in a "grand coalition" of what traditionally have been the country's biggest parties - the CDU, Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union, and the center-left Social Democrats.

A new CDU chair will be elected at the coming party conference in December, Deutsche Welle said.

Young people in Germany can scarcely remember a time before Angela Merkel, 64, was their Chancellor.

Her decision comes after her party suffered heavy losses in regional elections that threatened the stability of the governing coalition.

Merkel has been heralded as both a hero and villain for her open-door refugee policy in Germany.

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

Although Merkel's current roles of party chair and Chancellor are customarily held by the same person, it is not a legal necessity.

Merkel will now concentrate on smoothing over the differences in her government to keep it running until the end of the parliamentary term in 2021, which is far from guaranteed. According to exit polls and projections from the provisional stages of the count, the Social Democrats are expected to lose as much as 11 percent from their previous total, and secure around 20 percent of the vote.

Merkel now leads Germany as part of a "grand coalition" of the country's biggest political parties.

Pressure from within the Christian Democratic Party, CDU, was already mounting on Merkel before Sunday with internal critics saying at the very least she should not stand for reelection as the leader of the CDU in party elections scheduled for December. Merkel said she wanted to give the party a chance for renewal while continuing to run the country, the Associated Press said.

That means Germany has lost some of its authority on the European stage just when the bloc faces some tough challenges including Brexit negotiations, an increasingly assertive Russian Federation and a more protectionist United States.

"We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel's mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: The gradual but steady erosion of her political power", Carsten Nickel, managing director at consultancy Teneo, told Reuters.

"We do not know who will come after Merkel and what policy will be continued after Merkel".

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