Merkel will step down as chancellor in 2021

Merkel Faces Test of Her Authority in German Regional Vote

Germany's two biggest parties achieved their worst result in more than half a century in Hesse, making Angela Merkel's future look uncertain, both as CDU leader and as chancellor.

Merkel, 64, has been CDU chairwoman since 2000 and giving up the role would start a race within the party to succeed her as chancellor.

According to reports, Ms Merkel told CDU leaders that she will not seek reelection as party chairwoman at a conference in early December.

Merkel told the party that this will be her final parliamentary term as chancellor, the dpa news agency reported, citing unidentified party sources.

An election Sunday in the central state of Hesse saw both the CDU and the Social Democrats lose significant ground, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

Born in Hamburg in July 1954, Angela Merkel began her political career by joining the communist leaning youth movement Free German Youth. The party was on a par with the Greens, also on 19.6 percent. The chancellor threw her weight behind her friend in Hesse and visited him four times on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

Although the CDU would then select a new leader, Dr Merkel is expected to attempt to stay on as Chancellor - Germany's Prime Minister equivalent position - until the next national elections in 2021.

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The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12.8 percent of the vote, the ZDF projection showed.

The clear victor of Sunday's state polls is the Green Party, in another repeat of the recent Bavarian election. She announced that the SPD would press Merkel's governing coalition to accept "a clear, binding timetable" for the government's projects.

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.

Five years after these photos were taken, Mrs Merkel would be elected leader of her country and eventually become known as the most powerful woman in the world.

Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his center-left Social Democrats in 2004 as his government struggled, but remained chancellor until he narrowly lost an election 18 months later.

The unstable government nearly collapsed twice over the summer, notably when Merkel restrained hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's attempts to toughen up migrant policy. The result, the SPD's worst since 1946, will pile pressure on the party leader, Andrea Nahles.

'The election results show that people expect renewal from the CDU, ' conservative lawmaker Matern von Marschall told the Stuttgarter newspaper.

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