Merkel, the eternal Chancellor now past her zenith | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Merkel, the eternal Chancellor now past her zenith

Angela Merkel has survived multiple crises but her obstacle-strewn path to a fourth term has prompted suggestions she is past her peak, leaving Germans to ponder life without the veteran chancellor.

After 12 years at the helm of Europe's biggest economy, the leader who is often called the world's most powerful woman is facing a battle for her political survival - and all she can do is wait.

Her hope of forming a new government now lies with some 460,000 rank-and-file members of the centre-left Social Democrats, who will vote on whether to approve a hard-fought coalition deal hammered out with her conservative bloc.

Organising the postal ballot is slated to take around three weeks, prolonging the uncertainty that has dogged Germany and drained Merkel's influence since September's inconclusive general election.

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