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Merkel likely to step down in 2019 to clear way for new coalition: Sigmar Gabriel

"Angela Merkel's decision to give up CDU party chair was probably a first step. She wants to clear the way for a new ‘Jamaica coalition' between the CDU/CSU, the liberal FDP and the Greens, by giving up the chancellery at the latest after the European Parliament elections in May 2019, " Gabriel said in an op-ed he wrote for the weekly Die Zeit newspaper.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to step down next year to clear the way for a new coalition government, former Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel claimed on Wednesday.

"Angela Merkel's decision to give up CDU party chair was probably a first step," Gabriel said in an op-ed he wrote for the weekly Die Zeit newspaper.

The social democrat politician, who served as a foreign minister in the former coalition government led by Chancellor Merkel, said he expected further steps by her.

"She wants to clear the way for a new 'Jamaica coalition' between the CDU/CSU, the liberal FDP and the Greens, by giving up the chancellery," he said.

Gabriel predicted that Merkel would give up the chancellorship at the latest after the European Parliament elections in May 2019.

Merkel, who has led the CDU for 18 years, announced on Monday that she will not run for the CDU chair again in the upcoming party conference in December, amid heavy losses of Christian Democrats in recent regional polls.

However, Merkel underlined that she wanted to remain chancellor until her term ends in 2021.

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