In her announcement, Merkel also stated that she will not run again for re-election as leader of her Christian Democrat Union (CDU) Party this December. Merkel has been chairwoman of the CDU since 2000 and Chancellor since 2005.
Merkel’s announcement comes as the CDU party continues to suffer election losses, making it harder to hold together a coalition government. Notice of Merkel’s departure has already kicked off the race as to who will be her successor. Current CDU party secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is seen as a favorite to replace Merkel by many in the party but Jens Spahn, current Health Secretary and Friedrich Merz a former member of parliament have also thrown their hats into the ring. Other candidates are likely to enter the race as well.
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Merkel’s departure will have an enormous impact on the EU which has a few looming issues to tackle such as BREXIT. It remains to be seen if Merkel’s successor will be pro-integration with Europe or will work to reassert more national sovereignty. In recent years, Germany has also seen a sharp rise in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Merkel has been a check to the AfD’s staunchly anti-immigrant policies and it is unclear if those views will gain ground once Merkel departs.
It remains to be seen if Merkel will serve out the remainder of her current term or if elections will be called sometime before her announced departure in 2021. Regardless of who replaces Merkel, the EU is losing an influential and experienced leader who has helped guide the EU through numerous crises over the years. As a leading economy in the EU, any changes to immigration policies under a new leader would have a huge impact on the mobility industry and it will be important to monitor this situation closely.
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