Angela Merkel’s departure will open a new era in German politics

London Correspondent:  The indispensable European has declared herself surplus to requirements. Last week Germany’s long-serving Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced that she would be stepping down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union party and would not lead it into the next election (due in 2021, but now likely much sooner).

On one hand, this is something of a surprise.  There is no other figure remotely of her stature in German politics.  Her dominance in European politics is unchallenged.

The German economy is growing and unemployment is low.  Germany is still reaping the long-term benefits of entering monetary union with its economic reforms completed and a competitive cost structure, while the rest of Europe limps slowly through prolonged and painful adjustment.

But from another angle, the surprise is how long it took to get here.

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