Merkel's rule in doubt after new election drubbing

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In the meantime, Merkel is expected to eventually bow out of German frontline politics.

Germany's Angela Merkel will not run for re-election as leader of her centre-right CDU, sources said Monday, in the clearest sign yet that the veteran chancellor is preparing her eventual exit after voters again punished her fragile coalition in a regional poll.

She would ratherwaive the party leadership than not be reelected. Party sources said Merkel wants to remain chancellor until 2021, when the next federal election is due.

Her announcement was praised within her party as well as by political opponents; however, some insisted that this move was not enough and called on her to immediately resign as chancellor.

In a vote in the western state of Hesse on Sunday, the CDU came out top but lost 11 percentage points in support compared to the last election in 2013.

Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner on July 17, 1954 in the port city of Hamburg, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman and a school teacher.

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Elected state premier of Germany's most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia just last year, 57-year-old Armin Laschet could emerge as the compromise candidate to heal divisions that have torn at the CDU under Merkel.

It came two weeks after a similar debacle for the CSU and Social Democrats in neighbouring Bavaria. We would now watch the situation closely, how it would unfold. Merkel will now concentrate her energy on keeping her government going until 2021, something that still remains uncertain.

Stepping down as CDU chairwoman further undermines Merkel's authority, which has been dented this year by the two regional election setbacks and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives' parliamentary group.

A political veteran who has served in the Bundestag national parliament and the European Parliament and as family minister in Merkel's first government, Laschet has often backed her moderate course.

After speculation by media and politicians alike around why the chancellor made the announcement, Ms. Merkel said she had chose to signal that she had heard the message voters were sending.

While she may have gained the accolade of Time Person of the Year in 2015 for allowing over 1 million refugees into the country, not all voters have hailed this as a success.

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Merkel has led the CDU since 2000 and has been Germany's chancellor since 2005.

"By passing the baton of her own free will she would show that she knows the same thing everyone knows: the end of her chancellorship is approaching".

At least four candidates declared their interest to seek Merkel's job after she made her stunning announcement. The party leader in the state, Tarek Al-Wazir, whose parents are Yemeni, said before the vote that anyone who wanted to send a message of rejection to the far-right AfD they "could do no worse than vote for a party led by someone like me".

In Bavarian elections on October 15, Merkel's coalition partner the CSU lost its majority in the regional parliament for the first time since 1957.

Potential successors include Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, General Secretary of the CDU; Jens Spahn, Health Minister; Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North-Rhine-Westphalia; Julia Klöckner, Agriculture Minister; Daniel Günther, Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein and Friedrich Merz, former Merkel rival, now inactive.

Ms Merkel named Brexit and US-Russia relations as the two biggest issues to work on during her remaining time as chancellor.

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