Merkel to give up CDU chair after 18 years: Party source

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces another major blow as Germans go to the polls in Hesse

The dismal performance poured further scorn over Merkel's authority as a leader of the CDU.

With political weakness at home, Merkel's ability to lead within the European Union will be increasingly limited as German voters lose confidence in the coalition government, further sending the European Union into political disarray as the European bloc now wrangles Brexit with the United Kingdom and a spiralling budget crisis with the Italian government, as well as the continued rise of extremist far-right political grassroots campaigns that have been springing up throughout Europe.

The news followed a poor result in the Hesse state election yesterday, where both Ms Merkel's CDU and its partners in national government, the Social Democrats, lost ground.

Others include two state premiers Armin Laschet and Daniel Guenther, who carry weight after recently leading the CDU to victory in regional elections.

Hessian Greens leader Tarek al-Wazir predicted his party would also benefit from disappointment over quarrels that have rocked Merkel's coalition in recent months, mostly over the AfD's core issue of immigration.

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Merkel, who has headed the CDU for 18 years, had until now always indicated that she believed the posts of party leader and chancellor should be held by the same person.

Just five years after the party's founding as a protest against euro zone bailouts, the anti-immigrant AfD now controls seats in all 16 of Germany's state parliaments, in addition to the national Bundestag and the European parliament.

With tensions high in the Berlin coalition, "no-one can say with 100 percent certainty how stable things will stay, what kind of dynamics will emerge in the individual parties" after the election, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday.

A senior CDU member told Reuters that party leaders wanted to discuss the possibility of Merkel reversing her decision to seek re-election as party chairwoman in December.

The result means the anti-immigration party, which entered the federal parliament for the first time a year ago, is now also represented in all 16 German regional assemblies.

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It's not clear if the CDU will now again unite with the Greens to form a government.

That result would allow the current state government of the CDU and Greens to continue, albeit with a thinner majority.

The nosedive in support for Merkel's party in Hesse, known as Hessen in Germany, was predicted by polls ahead of the crucial election.

The Social Democrats' leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded Sunday a "clear, binding timetable" for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

Volker Bouffier, the incumbent CDU state premier in Hesse and a Merkel ally, said his party had achieved its goal of being able to lead the next government in Hesse, but added: "We are in pain because of the losses".

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