CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

German Chancellor Merkel’s resignation as CDU party leader unlikely to reduce risk of early elections in 12-month outlook

31 October 2018
German Chancellor and CDU leader Angela Merkel with Hesse's State Premier and Deputy Chairman of the CDU Volker Bouffier ahead of a party leadership meeting at the CDU headquarters on 29 October in Berlin. Source: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • The CDU's renewal will highly depend on whether Merkel's successor will largely continue with her centrist policy direction or move the party back further to the right.
  • There is a heightened risk of early elections in the 12-month-outlook as the CDU's junior coalition partner SPD seems increasingly unlikely to stay in government for a full legislative term.
  • In the event of new elections, a renewal of the current grand coalition is highly unlikely with possible alternatives including a coalition between the CDU and the Greens.

Event

Following poor results in recent state elections and ongoing intra-government disputes, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she will not seek re-election as CDU party leader, but stated that she intends to remain the head of government until the next regular general election in 2021.

On 29 October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she will not seek re-election as leader of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands: CDU) at the party's upcoming annual conference in early December. She intends, however, to remain the head of government until the next regular general election in 2021. Merkel ruled out running for any political office in Germany or the European Union (EU) after the current legislative term. These decisions follow months of destabilising intra-government disputes over issues such as migration and security that nearly led to the break-up of cabinet twice since Merkel's fourth administration came into power in March 2018. In addition, pressure on Merkel has increased recently due to state elections in Bavaria and Hesse where all national-level government parties suffered heavy losses, signalling widespread discontent with the centrist "grand coalition" comprising the CDU, its Bavarian regional ally Christian Social Union (Christlich-Soziale Union: CSU), and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands: SPD). In the Hessian state elections of 28 October, the CDU's electoral share declined by 11.3% and that of the SPD by 10.9%.

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