Merkel party suffers heavy losses in key regional election

Merkel Faces Test of Her Authority in German Regional Vote

It is the latest in a line of weak performances for parties in Merkel's ruling coalition, signalling a broader shift in German politics.

Over the last two weeks, voters in the states of Hesse and Bavaria also punished her party and coalition allies CSU and SPD in two separate regional elections.

Meanwhile junior federal coalition partners the Social Democrats (SPD) tumbled nearly 11 points to 20 per cent.

"The message to the parties ruling in Berlin is: People want fewer disputes and more focus on the important issues", he said. The environmentalists surged to 19.5 percent of the vote, up 8 percentage points since the last election five years ago and running neck-and-neck with the SPD. She has been chancellor for 13 years.

While migration and asylum policy has been sharply tightened since, it has not been enough to stop desertions to the AfD and disquiet in the CDU's own ranks.

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. Merkel's party managed an unimpressive win, narrowly salvaging a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens in Hesse.

The party attracts voters who favour welcoming refugees, worry about climate change or are fed up with the indulging of auto companies during a years-long scandal over harmful emissions from diesel vehicles. "So the party grandees will clench their teeth, stay in the coalition and wait for a better day".

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Following the close election results, the SPD's leader, Andrea Nahles, has announced a mid-term review of the current coalition government next year, taking the declining voting numbers as a sign that the German electorate is growing exhausted of the coalition's constant in-fighting and lack of progress on bringing legislative change to Germany.

The CDU's General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed Nahles' promises, stating that the coalition must identify "three concrete projects for the coming months that we implement".

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

Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in Europe, is standing down as the chairperson of her Christian Democratic Union party, a position she has held for 18 years, according to German media reports.

Merkel confirmed her plans at a press conference in Berlin on Monday.

Merkel also reportedly said that she won't seek re-election to parliament after its current term ends, indicating that this will be her final term as chancellor - something that had been widely assumed but that Merkel has not until now confirmed. It was not until March 2018 that a government was finally formed, when the SPD agreed to enter a coalition.

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