Departing German leader Merkel ready to have more time to read and travel

Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Rome

Angela Merkel has said she is satisfied with the timing of her departure after 16 years at the helm of Germany and is now looking forward to dedicating time to things she had to neglect during her chancellorship.

Ms Merkel said she wants to “perhaps travel a bit or read, or simply enjoy some leisure time knowing that no possible upheaval may happen in the next 20 minutes”, weekly paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

The chancellor, who announced in 2018 that she would not run again in the national election last month, steered Germany safely through a succession of crises including the global financial crisis, the migrant crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

She said that while the years in office had fulfilled her, they had also been challenging because of the constant need to pay attention to, prevent, or react to crises.

“I can say with a good feeling now that it is right for someone else to take over,” Ms Merkel told the newspaper.

Germany held its national election last month.

The Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats are currently in talks about forming a coalition government.

The three parties said earlier this month they aim to have the country’s next chancellor in place in early December.

Outgoing vice chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose centre-left Social Democrats narrowly won the election, appears to have the best chance of succeeding Ms Merkel.

Until the next government has been formed, she will continue to lead Germany in a caretaker position, and on Saturday was attending the G20 summit in Rome.

Ms Merkel, who is 67, said she feels gratitude to have been able to have served the country and also looks back with satisfaction “on a long, and in some cases complicated, period”.

“A little melancholy will perhaps also come later,” she added.

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