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Angela Merkel says this will be her last term as chancellor of Germany
German Chancellor and leader of the German Christian Democrats Angela Merkel speaks at a news conference Monday after elections in the state of Hesse in Berlin. Merkel announced that she will not seek re-election neither as party chairwoman nor as chancellor, and that she will withdraw from political office once her terms end. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Angela Merkel says this will be her last term as chancellor of Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will be stepping down as chancellor when her term ends in 2021.

Here's what we know

On Monday, Merkel announced that she would be stepping down as both chancellor and as head of the Christian Democratic Union. While she will remain as chancellor until 2021, she will step down as party head this year.

The announcement comes after her party's vote dropped 10 percent during an election on Tuesday in the German state of Hesse. The Social Democrats, who are part of her government's coalition, were also down in this last election. Merkel said that she took "full responsibility" for the outcome of the election. The head of the Social Democrats, Andrea Nahles, has said that she sees no need to step down.

Merkel, 64, has been chancellor since 2005,  and the head of her party since 2000. She had won four consecutive terms. Merkel is only the third chancellor of a reunified Germany.

Merkel has faced criticism for her handling of the refugee crisis. In 2015, her open door policy allowed 1 million refugees, mostly from Syria, to enter Germany. Many of these refugees fled their home country due to Syria's 7 1/2-year long civil war. In July, after facing increasing backlash, Merkel reversed her position and agreed to tighten border controls.

What did Merkel say?

In a news conference on Monday, Merkel said: “This fourth term is my last as German chancellor. At the federal election in 2021, I will not stand again as chancellor candidate, nor as a candidate for the Bundestag, and ... I won’t seek any further political offices.”

It is still unclear who will replace Merkel as leader of her party, but CDU secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has announced that she will run for the position.

A former parliamentary leader named Friedrich Merz is also reported to be running. Merkel has said that she will not endorse any of the candidates running to replace her.

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