Long-serving German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently signaled the end of an era when she said she would step down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and not seek reelection once her current term as chancellor was up.
The move represents a tectonic shift in German politics, which have orbited around Angela Merkel as a central feature for decades. Her departure will reshuffle the deck of party fortunes, potentially giving new impetus to the long-suffering SPD and curtailing (or turbo-charging) the rise of the far-right Alternative for Deutschland (AfD).
But before that, Merkel’s CDU must choose a replacement for “Mutti” – a process that will play out in early December. The new CDU leader will preside over the fate of not only Merkel’s contentious legacy, but the future of conservative centrism in one of the last major establishment parties left standing in Europe.