German Chancellor Angela Merkel on October 29, 2018, announced her resignation, a day after her party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), suffered yet another crushing election defeat. Merkel said she would step down as leader of her party in December and would not seek re-election in 2021.
In the state election in Hesse, Germany’s two biggest parties received their worst results in more than half a century. The CDU dropped from 38% to 27%, the Social-Democrats (SPD) from 30% to less than 20%. Both parties continue a losing streak that shows no sign of reversal. Rather, the downturn seems to be accelerating. In last year’s general elections, Merkel’s party and its ally, the Social Democrats, recorded their worst results up to then in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. Throughout much of Germany’s postwar history, the CDU and SPD each used to achieve about 40% of the votes. In last autumn’s general elections, the CDU and SPD combined barely managed to surpass the 50% threshold to form a government. Recent polls see them combined at barely 40% (24% for the CDU and 15% for the SPD).
“The time has come to open a new chapter,” Merkel said. In a letter to the party, Merkel admitted mistakes that her government may have made “in recent weeks and months”. According to Merkel, the voters did not acknowledge the current government’s “decent” achievements due to the latter’s wrong “work culture” that “doesn’t meet” Merkel’s “personal standards” — apparently referring to the public feud between her and the CDU’s Bavarian sister-party CSU over immigration policy.