A senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives urged the head of the allied Bavarian CSU party to follow her example and step down as party leader after poor election results, in an interview published on Tuesday.
Merkel said on Monday that her fourth term as chancellor would be her last and that she would step down as leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), heralding the end of a 13-year era in which she has dominated European politics.
Her decision followed two state elections in Bavaria and Hesse where the parties in Merkel's governing coalition suffered heavy losses, a result partly blamed on infighting between the CDU and its Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) sister party.
Tobias Hans, CDU premier in the western state of Saarland, called on CSU leader Horst Seehofer - who as interior minister in Merkel's federal government unsettled voters by criticising the chancellor - to follow suit and step down.
"The fact is that Angela Merkel has given an example of how to take responsibility after a poor election result," Hans told Die Welt newspaper.
"Angela Merkel has managed to deliver a self-determined departure as party leader, this is also my wish for colleague Horst Seehofer," Hans added.
There was no immediate response from Seehofer.
Several CDU politicians have announced they want to succeed Merkel as party leader at a conference in December, including CDU party secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a close Merkel ally, and Health Minister Jens Spahn who is one of her fiercest critics.