German Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of her conservatives on Monday that she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman, senior party sources said, heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.
Merkel, 64, has been chairwoman of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2000 and chancellor since 2005. Party sources said Merkel wants to remain chancellor until 2021, when the next federal election is due.
The announcement, which effectively accelerates the process for the CDU to settle on and groom Merkel’s successor, caused the euro to fall briefly and German government bond yields rose.
Stepping down as CDU chairwoman would further undermine Merkel’s authority, which has already been dented this year by two regional election setbacks and a close ally losing his role as leader of her conservatives’ parliamentary group.
Merkel has loomed large on the European stage since 2005, helping guide the EU through the euro zone crisis and opening Germany’s doors to migrants fleeing war in the Middle East in 2015 – a move that still divides the bloc and Germany.
“We are witnessing a continuation of the pattern in place ever since Merkel’s mistakes in the 2015 migration crisis: the gradual but steady erosion of her political power,” said Carsten Nickel, managing director at Teneo, a consultancy.
“Rather than outright instability in Germany and Europe, it simply means a continuation of the current leadership vacuum.”
Monday’s news came as a surprise to CDU party officials, who had expected Merkel to seek re-election as chairwoman at a party congress in Hamburg in early December.
The shock move started the race in the CDU to succeed Merkel. It also raises questions about whether she can stage manage a smooth exit.
Merkel is under pressure from her Social Democrat coalition partners to deliver more policy results and the center-left party could yet pull out of the government at a mid-term review next year.
Germany’s other leader CDU chancellors – Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl – both had messy ends to their time in office.
Merkel standing down from the party chair would allow a new CDU chairman or chairwoman to build a profile before the next national election.
Party sources said Merkel’s favored successor, CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, had announced her candidacy for the party chair.
Party sources also said that Friedrich Merz, a former parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservative alliance, was ready to put himself forward for the CDU chairmanship.
Merkel’s weakness at home may limit her capacity to lead in the European Union at a time when the bloc is dealing with Brexit, a budget crisis in Italy and the prospect of populist parties making gains at European parliament elections next May.
When Merkel came into office in 2005, George W. Bush was U.S. president, Jacques Chirac was in the Elysee Palace in Paris and Tony Blair was British prime minister.
Her decision comes on the heels of a second electoral setback in as many weeks for Merkel’s conservative alliance. In a vote in the western state of Hesse on Sunday, the CDU came out top but lost 11 percentage points in support compared to the last election in 2013.
“With these latest results, it has simply become untenable that Merkel continues to lead the CDU,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at Eurasia Group, a consultancy.
Nigeria Remains Third Most Terrorized Country In The World
Nigeria still holds the unenviable position as the third most terrorized country in the world.
The 2018 global terrorism index, released on Wednesday, says this is as a result of the spate of terrorism in Nigeria. It also points to what it called the “increase in violence involving Fulani extremists”. The report says this is happening as deaths committed by Boko Haram are falling..
Nigeria is ranked only below Iraq and Afghanistan, both in first and second positions.
This year alone, hundreds of Nigerians have been killed in attacks by suspected herdsmen as well as clashes between the herders and farmers/communities.
States worst hit in the attacks are Plateau, Benue, Zamfara, Taraba and others.
The report also noted that, compared to the peak of “terrorist deaths” in 2014, “the largest falls in the number of deaths occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Migrants Breech U.S.-Mexico Border
Central American migrants stuck at the U.S.–Mexico border breached the border fence on Monday, even though they knew they could be detained by U.S. authorities. They hoped the illegal entry would allow them to apply for asylum.
Since mid-October, thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras, have traveled north through Mexico in a caravan, some walking much of the long distance.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to stop the migrants, sending troops to reinforce the border and attempting a procedural change to require asylum-seekers to remain in mexico while their cases are heard. So far, the courts have denied those attempts.
Applying for asylum at a U.S. land border can take months, so if migrants enter illegally and present themselves to authorities,their cases could be heard more quickly.
Analyst Expects Unsuccessful Yemen Peace Meeting
A political analyst says prospects for returning to a unified Yemen remain dim despite members from both warring parties meeting to discuss peace in Stockholm, Sweden.
Supported by the United Nations, representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels will meet for political consultations later this week, although no exact date has been announced for the start of the negotiations that would be the first peace talks since 2016.
Mokhtar Yafie, a political analyst in Aden says he does not expect much success from the Stockholm peace meeting.
Yafie added that the internal divisions within the Yemeni government and the Houthi would also complicate the negotiation.
Although some residents in Yemen hold little hopes for the peace talks, there are people having high expectations for them.
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