Ralph Brinkhaus, leader of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parliamentary group, addresses the Bundestag on Oct. 17. Germany -- as well as the rest of the Continent -- will experience major changes as Angela Merkel slowly exits the scene.
(TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Angela Merkel's announcement that she will not stand for re-election as the leader of Germany's governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is raising questions about the political future of the largest economy in Europe. Merkel wants to remain German chancellor until the end of her term in 2021, but the race to succeed her has already begun. Beyond the mere domestic ramifications, the consequences of the competition to succeed Merkel will have an impact across the European Union. In the immediate term, a weaker German government could result in the postponement of important EU reforms. In the longer term, Germany's political polarization could make it harder for Berlin to accommodate its partners in Southern Europe, thereby threatening the entire continuity of the union....
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