It looks like the beginning of the end for Angela Merkel's long tenure as Germany's chancellor. After her ruling party under-performed in state elections, Merkel told leaders of her Christian Democratic Union that this would be her final parliamentary term as chancellor, reports the AP. The current term ends in late 2021, and it's uncertain whether Merkel will be able to remain even that long. Earlier reports said Merkel informed CDU leaders that she would quickly step down as party leader but remain as chancellor, a post she has held since 2005. She has been CDU leader since 2000. The Wall Street Journal sees even that move as a "watershed moment" for Merkel, and not in a good way.
It's not unprecedented for a German chancellor not to be leader of the ruling party—in fact that situation briefly applied to Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, reports the AP. Schroeder lasted only a year, however, and Merkel has long insisted that the positions be jointly held. Here is how the Washington Post puts it: "While her departure would not automatically result in her stepping down as German chancellor, the move is an acknowledgment of her increasingly volatile position." On a similar note, the Guardian expects a race to begin immediately within the CDU for the next chancellor. (Read more Angela Merkel stories.)