Germany's Angela Merkel prepares exit plan after party's poor election showing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference following the Hesse state election in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told leaders of her Christian Democrats (CDU) that she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman at a conference in early December, a senior party source said. "We haven't heard about serious contenders to replace her".

In September past year, Merkel's CDU party won the general election but more than 13% of the voting population chose the right-wing nationalists AfD, which are anti-Islam and anti-refugee.

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

Losing ground to their non-mainstream rivals in a series of recent elections, including Local votes in Hesse and Bavaria and the national election previous year has been viewed as unacceptable by many in a nation which has until recently instinctively tied itself to the centre ground.

Hesse's election has mirrored the Bavarian state vote, held just two weeks ago, which brought big gains for the Greens and AfD, but dealt a sensitive blow to the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), as well as the SPD.

At the weekend, the CDU performed poorly in the elections in the central German state of Hesse.

Merkel's decision does not mean she will cease to be Germany's leader in December.

Andrea Nahles, leader of the Social Democrats, on Sunday demanded a "clear, binding timetable" for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

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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.

"She will not stand again for the chairmanship of her party", said the source within the Christian Democratic Union, a day after voters in the Hesse state punished her party in a regional poll.

"No-one can say with 100 percent certainty how stable things will stay, what kind of dynamics will emerge" after the election, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday.

Her term as Chancellor was expected to run until 2021. The dismal performance poured further scorn over Merkel's authority as a leader of the CDU.

For years, Merkel insisted that the chancellor should also be party leader, but it's thought that the move could allow her successor time to build up their profile ahead of a national election, the Guardian reported.

Born in Hamburg in July 1954, Angela Merkel began her political career by joining the communist leaning youth movement Free German Youth.

For a start, Mrs Merkel's coalition...

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