Angela Merkel 'To Step Down From Christian Democrat Party In December'

Merkel had been widely expected to be reelected as CDU chief at a party congress in December.

"The CDU should make way for a new start in a government or a new election in Germany", he told German television channel NTV.

Projections for ARD and ZDF public television, based on exit polls and partial counting, gave the CDU 27-28 per cent support and the centre-left Social Democrats almost 20 per cent.

Both polls have been seen as damning verdicts on the right-left "grand coalition" in Berlin which has lurched from crisis to crisis, often over the hot-button issue of migration.

Dubbed a "mini-Merkel" by German media due to her rational approach to politics, she was premier of the tiny state of Saarland on the French border from 2011 to 2018.

The Social Democrats' weak performance in regional elections this year in Hesse and Bavaria has added pressure on their national leadership to force Merkel into more concessions. The Social Democrats, who are part of her government's coalition, were also down in this last election. The SPD's share of the vote fell by a similar amount, with both the SPD and the resurgent Greens each taking about 19.2 per cent of the vote. That's three times its tally from 2013, the year it was created. He governs Schleswig-Holstein in a three-way coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party and the environmental Greens-a model that Merkel tried and failed to set up at the federal level past year after the FDP withdrew. But how long can that last as some of the world's biggest economies, including the United States, Italy and, now, Brazil, lurch to the right, their supporters demanding that national interests come first?

The CDU and the SPD have been running the political show in Germany since the late 1940s, overseeing the country's evolution from failed - and utterly destroyed - fascist state to modern, open democracy, global industrial power and perhaps the prime sponsor of the European integration project. A three-way coalition with the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats was already on the cards before bedtime Sunday night.

Shooter opens fire at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh
Several people have been rescued but a number of people remain inside the building as officers try to evacuate them. Two of the victims were in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

Either way, Merkel stepping down will mark a major transition for a continent she has shaped for the past 13 years with her handling of multiple debt crises, her decisions on nuclear energy and, most of all, her fateful choice to allow more than one million asylum-seekers to enter Germany. The chancellor threw her weight behind her friend in Hesse and visited him four times on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

The announcement comes after her party's vote dropped 10 percent during an election on Tuesday in the German state of Hesse.

But only the Greens, who are in opposition nationally, are benefiting in polls. "Considering the circumstances, we can say that it's a clear mandate to lead the [Hesse] government", he said.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Sunday it would be "a mistake" for Merkel to cling to power.

Ms Merkel's decision to step down after her fourth term sets in motion the process for the CDU to settle on and groom her successor, for which party secretary-general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is favoured. He demanded a new vote by the SPD's rank and file on whether to quit the coalition.

The move means the party will have to find a new leader in December.

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