Merkel, who also serves as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), announced in late October that she would not run for party leader in December or seek a fifth term as chancellor in 2021, setting a deadline for her exit from German politics. It came after the CDU suffered a setback in a state vote in Hesse, while Christian Social Union (CSU), its Bavarian sister party, suffered its biggest loss in half a century in the southern state in October.
“Back in 2016, I was thinking about whether I should become a candidate for the chancellor … it’s clear that a moment comes when the desire to see new people or the desire of other decision-making mechanisms plays a role, and I… cannot complain that it is happening too early,” Merkel said at the Berlin Economic Forum.
Merkel has been criticized for her open-door migration policy, which resulted in a million of mostly North African migrants pouring into Germany in 2015. Her party’s popularity slumped in the following years, causing it to lose seats in the federal parliament in 2017.