‘Step down, Chancellor!’ Allies turn on Merkel as rivals scramble to steal her job

The Chancellor is hoping to form a ‘Grand Coalition’ with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but talks rest on Martin Schulz convincing his party members to approve the link. 

Fears are growing ’s coalition dream is set to crumble, sparking another federal election – with critics and allies alike warning she is unlikely to survive another vote as Chancellor. 

In a blunt example of this turning tide, Mrs Merkel was told by a CDU party member at a regional conference: “Chancellor Merkel, step back.”

But who would replace Mrs Merkel, who has been Chancellor of for almost 18 years and become one of the most influential figures in the modern history of the country and the EU? 

Mrs Merkel herself already appears to have a preference in Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the premier of the Saarland region in Germany. 

A close Merkel ally, she supports increasing the top income bracket rate. However she sparked controversy in 2015 by comparing same sex marriage with incest.

Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer’s success would also mean Jens Spahn, a rival of the Chancellor, would not get the top post. Under Mr Spahn the government would move significantly to the right, something Mrs Merkel wants to avoid at all costs. 

Others still call for less well known names to replace Mrs Merkel and for party officials to put policy above personality.

Alexander Mitsch, head of the political group Values ​​Union, said: “Previous popularity or media popularity are only partial aspects of the necessary qualifications – otherwise Helene Fischer would be a hot contender for the Chancellor’s office.”

It comes after Mrs Merkel caved in to the SDP and agreed to an immigration policy u-turn. 

Under the agreement, up to 1,000 family members a month will be allowed to join people who are allowed to stay in Germany on less than full refugee status.

In 2016, the government had decided to suspend family re-unifications for two years for migrants who get “subsidiary protection”. 

Mrs Merkel’s team confirmed that there was a deal but initially gave no details.

Mr Schulz said: “The SPD has held sway with a good agreement on family reunions.”

(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.)