London: Germany’s main ruling party Christian Democratic Union’s chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was widely tipped to succeed Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, announced on Monday that she is stepping down from her post, reports said.

The decision of Kramp-Karrenbauer, who took over as the head of CDU in December 2018, came after fresh concerns were raised about her ability to exercise command in the party after some local party leaders in Thuringia state voted with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to install liberal candidate Thomas Kemmerich as regional Premier, the BBC reported.

Any understanding with the AfD, which has extreme views on immigration and freedom of speech, is a no-no in German politics.

Kramp-Karrenbauer told a news conference on Monday that she would stay on as party leader until a leadership contest, expected in the summer, is held, adding that she is confident that her decision will not impact the coalition between the CDU and the Social Democrats that runs Germany’s federal government.

She also plans to remain as Defence Minister for the term of the present legislature.

Her plans to quit have thrown open the race for the successor to Merkel, who has been at the helm since 2005 but announced that she will leave office in 2021, when the next federal elections are due.