ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports on Angela Merkel's legacy ahead of Germany's elections on Sunday
The eyes of Europe and the world will be on Germany this weekend as Sunday’s elections will bring about the country’s first new Chancellor for 16 years, ushering in a new political era for the country, continent and world.
Angela Merkel’s career, however, does not seem to be ending in failure, as she will be bowing out with an 80% approval rate that would have possibly seen her win a fifth term in office had she been running.
The person who succeeds Ms Merkel will inherit the legacy of her time in office - as the leader who shaped modern Germany, and by many people's estimation the single most dominant European political figure.
Hoping to fill her shoes is Armin Laschet, the politician who now heads Ms Merkel’s party.
“This is about Germany”, Ms Merkel said at a big rally in Munich today, trying to shore up Mr Laschet’s campaign. “Germany has to remain stable and that’s why Armin Laschet must become Chancellor”, she added.
But observers were keen to point out that rather than campaigning for Mr Laschet, she has spent too much of this election on photo ops.
“It’s only really been in the very last days of the campaign that she showed some active support for her successor, and I would have thought that that’s a bit of a failure of leadership really,” said Professor Klaus Goetz from Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians University.
ITV News' James Mates explains why this election is important election not just for Germany, but Europe
But while her departure may be mired in criticism, her preceding 16 years since her election in 2005, are likely to be recorded positively by historians.
The Merkel years:
As the first woman to become Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel rose from virtual obscurity outside the country’s borders, to becoming the essential European politician and power figure.
She led the successful efforts to save the euro in partnership with a string of successive French presidents, and astonished the world by offering a welcome and a home to more than a million refugees.
But for some in Britain, and in particular for David Cameron who had banked on her doing a deal to help him win the Brexit referendum, the feeling is that she didn’t deliver that same level of generosity.
Whether she can deliver her country to Armin Laschet, the world will find out on Sunday, as Europe watches closely for what sort of government Germany will have by the end of the election, and how it will continue to lead the EU.