Will Angela Merkel step down in 2015? A new biography of the German chancellor by Nikolaus Blome, the chief political correspondent of tabloid newspaper Bild, is likely to fan speculation that the chancellor won't serve a full third term even if she does win the general election in September.
In the book, published on Monday, Blome bases his speculation on conversations with leading politicians and Merkel confidants who said Merkel had told them she regards 10 years of service as a chancellor or regional governor as a maximum. They also said she would like to become the first German chancellor since World War II to quit without being voted out of office or pushed out by their own party. "To achieve that as the first one would really appeal to her a lot," the book quotes an anonymous source close to her as saying, Bild reported on Monday.
Merkel turns 61 on July 17, 2015. She has been German chancellor since November 2005. Blome points out that during the 1990s, Merkel had privately expressed the opinion that Helmut Kohl, her former mentor, should step down before the 1998 election to make room for a successor. Kohl insisted on running in 1998 -- and lost.
Merkel will have to be prepared for questions on how much longer she intends to be chancellor. It's highly unlikely that she will confirm such speculation. After all, it would seriously weaken her campaign if she were to tell voters she'll only serve half her term.
Besides, given how successful she has been at sidelining political rivals in her conservative Christian Democratic Union over the past decade, and in light of the absence of an obvious successor to her, she may well stay on. And on. And on.