Sources within the Christian Democrat Union (CDU) said officials are re-considering the timeline which sees Ms Merkel stand down at the 2021 election to make way for party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Concerns about the 64-year-old’s health were raised again this week after she began trembling as she stood for national anthems with Finland’s prime minister in Berlin on Wednesday.
She then chose to break with protocol and sit during yesterday’s welcoming ceremony for the Danish prime minister.
Ms Merkel insists she is fine but her office has given no explanation for the repeated shaking and some within her party are asking if it is time for her to leave office.
One insider said: “The tremors are fuelling the CDU internal debate about whether the schedule agreed between Merkel and Kramp-Karrenbauer on not changing the guard until 2021 can hold.”
Ms Merkel stood down as party chair in favour of Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer last year, paving the way for the new leader to become Chancellor in 2021.
Mr Kramp-Karrenbauer’s supporters are now said to be discussing an early succession.
Ms Merkel appeared in good health at two appointments today, posing briefly while standing before cameras to receive a report on carbon pricing and for a gallery opening.
She said she was “working through” a bout of tremors that first occurred in mid-June but declined to give any details about her health.
After a June 27 episode of shaking at an event with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ms Merkel went ahead with her planned trip to Japan for a G20 summit before returning to Europe for three days of tortuous talks at an EU summit.
She has led Germany since 2005, making her the longest-serving political leader of a major Western democracy.
But some commentators are asking if her workload has become too heavy.
Writing in the mass-selling daily Bild, columnist Franz Josef Wagner said: “Dear sitting chancellor. It broke my heart when I saw you sitting for the military honours for the Danish prime minister.
“We are seeing someone who wants to stay strong, and shakes and shakes.”
Bild counted 21 foreign trips that Ms Merkel, who turns 65 next week, has been on so far this year, which it said was more than 41-year-old French President Emmanuel Macron, on 17, and 62-year-old British Prime Minister Theresa May, on 16.
Ms Merkel is known for her work ethic and has a reputation for outlasting other leaders at EU summits with her ability to focus on the details of complex discussions deep into the night.