Defeat 'the beginning of the end for Merkel'
Germans were speculating over the "beginning of the end of the Merkel era" last night after the chancellor suffered a shock defeat in a key vote of her party's MPs.
For the first time since Angela Merkel took power almost 13 years ago, MPs from her Christian Democrat party (CDU) rejected her chosen candidate as their leader in parliament and voted instead for a challenger who promised to be more independent.
The defeat was a blow to Ms Merkel's authority and left her facing a backbench rebellion as she tries to get her coalition's legislative programme through parliament.
"This is an uprising against Merkel," Thomas Oppermann, a senior MP from her coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD), said on Twitter.
"This is an hour of democracy, and it has its defeats," Ms Merkel told her MPs as she conceded her nominee had lost. "There is nothing to gloss over."
It was the first time since 1973 that a challenger had even dared to stand against an incumbent chancellor's candidate for the leadership of the CDU's group in parliament.
Ms Merkel nominated Volker Kauder, who has served her as parliamentary leader for 13 years, for re-election, and her choice was endorsed by the rest of the party leadership. But Mr Kauder (69) was defeated by Ralph Brinkhaus, a relative unknown, who said he was standing as the candidate of change to renew the party.
In the event, Mr Brinkhaus won by a knife-edge, with 125 votes to Mr Kauder's 112. (© Daily Telegraph, London)