Angela Merkel Will Not Seek Fifth Term as Germany’s Chancellor

'Time has come to open a new chapter,' leader said at a news conference in Berlin

Angela Merkel announced Monday she will not seek re-election in December as party chairperson — nor will she seek re-election as Germany’s chancellor when her term expires in 2021, multiple outlets reported.

“I have the firm feeling that today the time has come to open a new chapter,” Merkel announced at a news conference in Berlin on Monday, as Reuters and other media sources reported.

“This fourth term is my last term as chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the next Bundestag election in 2021, I will not run again as chancellor. I will not run for the German Bundestag any more, and I do not want any other political office,” she added.

The 64-year-old has chaired her country’s conservative Christian Democrat Union (CDU) since the turn of the century. She began her service as chancellor — Germany’s head of government — five years later.

Her announcement comes on the heels of a less than stellar performance by the CDU in Sunday’s election in the state of Hesse.

It was “the party’s worst showing in the state since 1966 and a drop of 11 points since Hesse last went to the polls in 2013,” said The Guardian.

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Related: Angela Merkel, Meet Angela Merkel

Merkel leads a group of Germany’s largest parties, including the CDU, the Catholic-influenced Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party.

Her decision in 2015 to permit large numbers of asylum-seekers into the country — a policy move on which she later changed course — created friction among those in her conservative union bloc and helped create support for an anti-immigrant party called Alternative for Germany, as Fox News explained.

Merkel seeks an orderly leadership transition for Europe’s biggest economy, according to the Associated Press.

The handoff to party leadership successor will take place in December.

Though she had insisted for years that Germany’s chancellor should also be party leader, she has changed course on that, too, saying that splitting the two jobs is now “justifiable,” AP reported.

She says she will not interfere in the choice of her successor.

Prominent candidates for CDU leadership include centrist Merkel ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and ambitious conservative Health Minister Jens Spahn, according to Fox News.

The United States ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, called Merkel’s announcement “big news” on Twitter early this morning.

President Donald Trump has been an outspoken critic of Germany for its and other countries’ failure to pay their fair share as part of NATO.

“We’re aware of the announcement,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders at the Monday afternoon briefing.

“This is an internal matter for the chancellor and the German people. We’re going to continue to work with the chancellor and continue to develop that relationship,” Sanders added.

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.

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