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Merkel to step down as party leader, quit as chancellor in 2021

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she will not seek re-election as party leader in December and that her fourth term as chancellor, ending in 2021, will be her last.

Merkel made the announcement at a news conference in Berlin after her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party suffered a regional election setback for the second week in a row this month.

«As the chancellor and the chair of the Christian Democrats, the buck stops here, both for successes and failures,» Merkel was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle. «The time has come to open a new chapter.»

Merkel, who has dominated European politics since she became German chancellor in 2005, said she will not seek any political post after her current term expires in 2021.

She said CDU party Secretary General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Health Minister Jens Spahn — a leading critic of the chancellor — had announced they would seek the party chair.

Backing for the CDU and its national coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), has waned since the 2017 general election, while support has grown for parties like the left-leaning Greens and the far-right, anti-immigration AfD.

In Sunday’s vote in the western state of Hesse, the CDU came in first but suffered a drop in support from the previous election there in 2013.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles on Monday blamed the conservatives for the government’s woes, particularly Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has repeatedly sparred with Merkel over immigration policy, dpa news agency reported.

All — Kyodo News+

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