A powerful political ally of Angela Merkel has abruptly stepped down, dealing a fresh blow to the German Chancellor.
Hamburg’s popular mayor Ole von Beust is the sixth state leader in Merkel’s Christian Democrat party to abandon ship in the last year.
Media said fatigue was the main reason for his departure after nine years running Germany’s second largest city.
Von Beust himself evoked personal reasons, using his resignation speech to pay tribute to his boss.
“I am extremely thankful for Mrs Merkel’s friendly advice and her understanding,” he said.
But the loss of yet another key colleague could raise fresh questions about her leadership. Opinion polls have tracked a steep erosion in support for the Chancellor and her centre-right coalition.