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With Angela Merkel having announced that she will step down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union and not seek re-election as chancellor when her current term ends in 2021, Germany is approaching a watershed moment. Since 1949, the country has had only eight chancellors, which means that Merkel's departure will be anything but an everyday occurrence. Wherever Germany is heading, one thing is already clear: the transition from Merkel to her successor will bring about a far-reaching reorganization of the country's party system.In the years preceding Merkel's first election as chancellor in 2005, Germany had been governed by a coalition comprising the SPD and the Greens (in which I served as vice chancellor and foreign minister).Chief among them is what role Germany and Europe should carve out for itself in the years to come.Merkel does not offer satisfactory answers to such questions. Of course, Merkel will be remembered as the chancellor of the "peace dividend" and, possibly, as the last chancellor of the post-war (West) German party system.Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005, was a leader of the German Green Party for almost 20 years.
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