German Chancellor Merkel reportedly ready to step down as party leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose CDU party lost significant ground in Sunday’s election in the central state of Hesse, is reportedly ready to step down as party leader.

By Associated Press

Angela Merkel is reportedly telling her conservative party that she is prepared to step down as its leader but remain as German chancellor.

News agency dpa cited unidentified party sources in its report Monday as the leadership of Merkel’s party met following a state election in which both her conservative Christian Democratic Union and its partners in the national government, the center-left Social Democrats, lost significant ground.

Citing sources in the CDU leadership, mass-circulation daily Bild reported that Merkel said she wouldn’t run again for the party leadership.

Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his party in 2004 but remained chancellor.

Sunday’s election in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the center-left Social Democrats suffer big losses, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany. Merkel’s party narrowly salvaged a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens.

On Monday, attention was focused on the future of Merkel’s national “grand coalition” of Germany’s traditionally biggest parties and on the chancellor herself. The Social Democrats’ leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded Sunday a “clear, binding timetable” for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

Merkel has led the CDU since 2000 and has been Germany’s leader since 2005. The CDU is due to hold a conference in December at which the party’s leadership is up for renewal.