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 on Monday.
Merkel, 64, has been CDU chairwoman since 2000 and giving up the role would start a race within the party to succeed her as chancellor. The euro fell to session lows on the news.
German news agency DPA, citing sources, tweeted that Merkel wanted to remain chancellor.
Monday’s developments come after the CDU came in first but bled support in a vote in the western state of Hesse on Sunday, the second electoral setback in as many weeks for Merkel’s conservative alliance.
Standing down from the party chair would allow a new CDU chairman or woman to build a profile before the next national election, due in 2021. Merkel’s favored successor is CDU Party Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
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.