Angela Merkel has dominated European politics during her 16 years in office. Today’s elections mark a big turning point for the EU. What will Ms Merkel do next? Will she take a step back from politics completely?
Mrs Merkel will continue to act as Chancellor until a new Government is formed.
As the German parliament is typically made up of two or three coalition parties, forming a new Government could take time.
But after potentially weeks of negotiations, once a coalition government is formed, Mrs Merkel will have to step down to make way for a new leader.
What next for Angela Merkel?
Mrs Merkel has made it clear she will not initially take up any political role after she steps down as chancellor.
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According to Politico many Europeans would support her “taking a leading role” in the EU after she retires from German politics.
According to a survey published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, in a hypothetical race between Mrs Merkel and French leader Emmanuel Macron for the EU presidency, 41 percent said they would back Ms Merkel over Emmanuel Macron
But for the present, it seems clear Ms Merkel is looking forward to her semi-retirement.
During her final trip as chancellor to Washington in July Mrs Merkel said she was looking forward to her post-leadership life.
Her announcement came after her party, the CDU, had taken a plummet in popularity, for which she took “full responsibility.”
She said: “As chancellor and leader of the CDU I’m politically responsible for everything, for successes and for failures.
“When people are telling us what they think of how the government was formed and what they think of our work during the first seven months of this parliament… then it is a clear signal that things can’t carry on as they are.
“The time has come to open a new chapter.”