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germany politics


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced she will step down in 2021, following recent election setbacks.

She told a news conference in Berlin: “I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends.”

Angela Merkel also said she would not seek re-election as leader of the center-right CDU party in December. She has held the post since 2000.

The CDU was severely weakened in October 28 poll in the state of Hesse, the latest in a series of setbacks.

Both the CDU and its national coalition partners, the Social Democrats, were 10 percentage points down on the previous poll there.

The election comes just weeks after Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party, the CSU, suffered huge losses in a state parliament vote.

Parties like the left-leaning Greens and the far-right, anti-immigration AfD have grown in national support following the 2017 general election, as backing for the major centre parties has waned.

Image source Wikimedia

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Angela Merkel said she took “full responsibility” for poor performance.

She said: “As chancellor and leader of the CDU I’m politically responsible for everything, for successes and for failures.

“When people are telling us what they think of how the government was formed and what they think of our work during the first seven months of this parliament… then it is a clear signal that things can’t carry on as they are.

“The time has come to open a new chapter.”

Angela Merkel also made it clear she would not handpick her successor as party leader and would “accept any democratic decision taken by my party”.

However, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer would be the obvious choice for Merkel loyalists to replace her. She is currently the party secretary.

Health Minister Jens Spahn, a leading critic of Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policies, has also announced his candidacy.

Friedrich Merz, a former leader of the CDU-CSU parliamentary group and an old rival to Angela Merkel, has thrown his hat into the ring.

Angela Merkel’s CDU plunged 11 percentage points to 27% in October 28 elections in the central state of Hesse, according to preliminary results. This was the CDU’s worst showing in the state since 1966.

The SPD, which is in coalition with the CDU nationally, fell by a similar amount to 19.8%.

The main beneficiaries were the Greens, who paradoxically share power with the CDU in the state and have now drawn level with the SPD, and the far-right AfD, who rose to 13%.

The Hesse vote follows a pattern of losses for the two main parties, with the AfD doing particularly well in eastern states.

Two weeks ago, the CDU’s Bavarian ally, the CSU, lost its absolute majority in the state’s parliament which it has dominated since 1957. Like in Hesse, the SPD also lost badly and the Greens and AfD surged.

While the Greens appear to have benefited from the SPD’s slump in support, it seems clear that the centre-right has lost voters to the AfD.

Part of the reason could be anger at Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to large numbers of refugees, a move which the AfD has vehemently opposed.

Several protesters and officers have been injured in clashes between police and anti-fascist demonstrators in the German city of Hanover.

Protesters were trying to blockade the far-right Alternative for Germany’s first conference since it entered parliament after September’s elections.

Once the delayed conference began, delegates elected Alexander Gauland as co-leader along with Jörg Meuthen.

Both hardliners, their election suggests the party is continuing its march further to the right.

Georg Pazderski, AfD’s regional head in Berlin and a relative moderate, failed to get delegates’ backing for the leadership.

Two months ago, AfD won 12.6% of the vote in Germany’s federal elections, becoming the third biggest force in the Bundestag after the center-right and social democrat SPD.

They had never entered the federal parliament before but are now eyeing a real chance of becoming Germany’s main opposition party.

If Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat alliance agrees a coalition deal with Martin Schulz’s social democrats, AfD with 94 lawmakers would become the biggest non-government party.

Image source Wikimedia

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With temperatures near freezing, Hanover police used water cannon, batons and pepper spray to clear a path for the 600 delegates.

One protester’s leg was broken after he chained himself to a barricade, while an officer was hit on the hand by a flying bottle.

Ten demonstrators were taken into custody.

A total of five protests were scheduled in Hanover on December 2. Some 6,000 people joined a pro-immigration rally in the city center and another rally called by trade unions was expected to draw thousands later.

When the conference got under way an hour late, Jörg Meuthen hailed delegates for helping the party achieve national success within five years of being founded.

He said the party was attracting support from voters put off by the other parties’ “pathetic childish games” amid an ongoing struggle to form a coalition government.

AfD has veered to the right since its inception as an anti-euro force, promoting anti-immigration and anti-Islam policies in its election campaign.

However, this sharp turn has created tension within its own ranks, with former co-leader Frauke Petry quitting within days of the election.

The delegates confirmed the AfD’s rightward trajectory, backing Alexander Gauland, the leader of the parliamentary party, for the co-leadership.

Alexander Gauland, who has pledged to stop “the invasion of foreigners” into Germany, said he had “allowed my friends to convince me to step in”.

Delegates defeated a motion to install Jörg Meuthen as the AfD’s only president.

They are also due to elect a new executive board to decide the ideological direction of AfD and debate policy motions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU has suffered historic losses in Berlin state elections.

The CDU has been ousted from the state governing coalition with the center-left Social Democrats.

Meanwhile the right-wing anti-migrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) made gains and will enter the state parliament for the first time.Angela Merkel on migrant crisis

Angela Merkel’s popularity has waned since her 2015 decision to allow more than a million refugees into Germany.

The CDU won 17.6% of the vote – its worst-ever result in Berlin.

It is the party’s second electoral blow in two weeks, having been pushed into third place by the AfD in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at the beginning of the month.

The Social Democrat Party (SPD) has emerged as the strongest party with about 22%, in spite of losing almost 7% of their voters.

The strong showing of the AfD, 14%, has prompted its co-chairman Joerg Meuthen to say the party was strongly positioned for 2017 national elections.

The AfD is now set to be represented in 10 out of 16 state parliaments.