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The German political landscape had already changed past year after the general elections in September when the oh-so-stable Germany saw the far-right party AfD enter the national parliament, the Bundestag, and witnessed coalition talks that failed after four weeks of negotiations, then had to wait months for a new government to form.

Merkel's departure comes after a series of party losses in regional elections, most recently in the central German region of Hesse - a former CDU stronghold - on Sunday.

Germany's Angela Merkel will quit as head of her Christian Democratic party after nearly two decades, a person familiar with the matter said.

Merkel has led the CDU since 2000 and has been Germany's leader since 2005.

The more liberal FDP party headed by Christian Lindner has welcomed the news of Merkel's exit and was among the first to demand her resignation, calling for "a real new beginning in Germany".

The CDU holds its annual congress in December, when Merkel will seek re-election as party chairwoman.

Another prominent CSU figure, Bavaria's state head Markus Soeder, said that it was the CDU's concern.

Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner on July 17, 1954 in the port city of Hamburg, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman and a school teacher.

Of the SPD, he added: "A party on the way down can not suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition".

"Merkel chose not to use barbed wire, clubs, water cannon, machine guns and tanks to chase away thousands of desperate refugees on the German border", wrote her friend, the singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann.

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"Rather than outright instability in Germany and Europe, it simply means a continuation of the current leadership vacuum", Nickel said.

She said the Government had lost credibility.

"I believe we need to turn a new page", Ms Merkel said.

The governing coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) has been in office for all of half a year.

Two prominent candidates immediately threw their hats in the ring: Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, 56, the party's general secretary, who is viewed as a Merkel ally and largely backs her centrist approach; and Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an ambitious conservative who has talked tough on migration and has criticized Merkel. The Social Democrats, who are part of her government's coalition, were also down in this last election.

Christian Lindner, the head of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, said that Ms. Merkel dropped the wrong post, implying she should step down as chancellor, amid criticism of the sclerotic grand coalition between the CDU and the Social Democrats, or SPD.

That may well end up being the most prominent part of Merkel's legacy.

The behaviour of one of Germany's most senior Bavarian politicians - he even announced he would leave office a couple of times, without following through - seemed erratic to many, but Seehofer's deliberate provocations also seemed to show Merkel's dwindling political power.

"Even if Merkel were to be replaced and/or if a new government were to take power in Berlin, with or without new elections, it would not make a major difference once the dust has settled", Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, said in a note.