German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed on Monday she would not seek re-election as chairwoman of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December, heralding the beginning of the end of her 13-year era of dominance in European politics.
A loss for Bouffier would make life more hard for Merkel, who has indicated that she plans to seek another two-year term as CDU leader at a congress in December.
She has been chair since 2000, and Germany's leader since 2005.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Just two weeks ago, the CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union, sustained similar losses in its home state of Bavaria.
It had been widely assumed that this would be Merkel's final term as chancellor, but before the reported remarks, she had not confirmed that herself.
She allowed in large numbers of asylum-seekers in 2015, declaring that "we will manage it", before gradually pivoting to a more restrictive approach.
The CDU's general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said the coalition needs to identify "three concrete projects for the coming months that we implement".
Merkel told reporters in Berlin that she has led the CDU with "passion and dedication" but added, "today it is time to start a new chapter".
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Sunday it would be "a mistake" for Merkel to cling to power.
She also faces pressure from her Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partners, who have also bled support in Hesse and are under pressure to rethink their alliance with Merkel.
Propelled by the backlash to Merkel's migration policy into the German federal parliament past year, the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now also represented in all 16 state legislatures, after Hessian voters handed it a 13-percent score and fourth place.
CDU took the most votes - between 27 and 28 percent - but that was still a poor result as the party lost about ten percent.
Merkel had previously indicated that she planned to seek another two-year term as leader of her at a party congress in December.
Age: 45Role: State premier of Schleswig-Holstein Guenther emerged from relative obscurity previous year to take Germany's northernmost state in a valuable electoral boost to Merkel.
Putting the blame squarely on Merkel is short-sighted, according to Nickel, and "reveals the degree of disorientation in both declining parties".
The chancellor named him health minister in her fourth government to appease the CDU's right wing, but he hasn't held back from criticising what he sees as her overly "social-democratic" party line.
"There is no obvious challenger", Campbell said, "but Merkel may have to leave sooner than she expected and on terms chosen by her party, not her".
Even though the German economy is strong, both the CDU and the SPD were punished the September, 2017 federal election.
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