The competition to succeed Angela Merkel at the head of her conservative party, and then perhaps the government of Germany, began on Tuesday after the unexpected announcement of the progressive withdrawal of power from the chancellor.
The race is announced fiercely, in a context in which many doubt the ability of Merkel - a record of longevity in power in Western Europe - to be able to stay three more years in the position of head of government, until the end of his term in 2021.
"The Merkel Kingdom is over", the Bild newspaper headlines on Tuesday. "The Merkel era comes to an end," agrees the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
In power for 13 years, Merkel - who suffered a new regional electoral setback on Sunday - announced on Monday that her current term as Chancellor of Germany "will be the last". He also said he will resign in December the presidency of his party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which he has headed for 18 years.
Merkel's popularity has not stopped falling since her decision to open her country's border to more than one million refugees in 2015 and 2016,
- Risk -
It is an important political risk for her, with a party that could acquire increasing autonomy, thus weakening the chancellor at national and European level.
This is what the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and former Chancellor, Wolfgang Schäuble, summed up with some perfidy. "The current legislature should last three years, and we'll see if that's the way it will be," he told Deutsche Welle on Monday night.
In this context, "how long will Merkel be in power?" Asks the weekly Der Spiegel on Tuesday.
"When power starts to escape, it can evaporate very quickly," he adds, expressing doubts that the chancellor will hold out until 2021.
And only in a little over a month, the chancellor will take a step towards political withdrawal by ceasing to preside over the CDU.
- Candidates -
Three candidates have already declared themselves internally to succeed Merkel in the presidency of the CDU, considered a preliminary step towards the chancellery.
Among them are the Secretary General of the CDU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is close to the Chancellor and the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn.
To them we can add the leader of the North Rhine Westphalia region, Armin Laschet.
The chancellor insists that she has no favorite. The new president will be elected by a thousand delegates meeting in Congress on 7 and 8 December in Hamburg.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, called "AKK", is the favorite according to the press, and considered Merkel's dolphin. Both women share the same political line, rather centrist.
In contrast, the ambitious Jens Spahn, 38, favorable to a rightist turn, is considered as the "head of internal opposition" or the "controversial star of the CDU."
Spahn has not stopped criticizing Merkel especially on immigration issues. However, according to some managers, he still lacked the necessary experience.
An old rising star of the party, Friedrich Merz, also in favor of a very conservative line, has decided to try his luck despite having long distanced from politics due to his old rivalry with Angela Merkel.
In any case, for one of the caciqueas of the CDU, the minister-president of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, the announcement of departure of Merkel opens the "opportunity for a new beginning" for the party.