Mrs Merkel announced last week she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December but would stay on as chancellor until 2021, despite previously saying the two roles should not be separated.
Significant disappointing losses in two recent regional elections forced Mrs Merkel into making the announcement which has sparked a frantic rush of candidates hoping to replace her.
Her position as chancellor looks increasingly frail and political analysts have said she is unlikely to see out her premiership.
That position has been further weakened by a new poll, conducted by the Insa Institute for Germany’s daily newspaper Bild, which shows 62.2 percent of nearly 4,000 people polled between November 2-5 think Mrs Merkel should stand aside once her CDU successor is chosen.
The party meets next month to elect a new leader following Mrs Merkel’s shock announcement that she did not want to stand for another term.
As soon as the news broke, candidates jumped to announce their leadership bids.
Annegret Kramp-Kartenbauer, Mrs Merkel’s close ally and preferred choice, threw her hat in the ring for leadership, but stopped short of saying she would want to take over as chancellor at a press conference yesterday.
The 56-year-old said she could work together with Mrs Merkel and praised her leadership, saying: “This is the end of the era.
“My experience is that one always stands on the shoulders of one’s predecessor.
“We need to work out a way for people here to feel at home, people who have lived here a long time and people who have arrived more recently.”
She added: “Mrs Merkel is the elected chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and as long as she has the majority in the Bundestag for that, she will certainly remain that.”
However analysts said it would be harder for Mrs Merkel to hold onto power if favourite Friedrich Merz succeeded her.
The CDU’s general secretary, 62, came top in a separate poll for Funke newspaper with 36 percent support, ahead of Kramp-Karrenbauer who was close behind with 33 percent.
Health minister Jens Spahn, 38, has also thrown his hat in the ring to replace Merkel.
He has been an outspoken critic of Mrs Merkel but it is unclear if he has enough support to replace her.
Whoever takes over from Mrs Merkel has a huge task ahead of them to turn the party’s fortune around after it was revealed support for the CDU has plummeted to a new low.
Support for Mrs Merkel’s party now stands at just 24.5 percent, down from 31 percent a year ago and 26 percent last month, according to a weekly survey from INSA/YouGov on behalf of Bild.
Meanwhile critics have warned Mrs Merkel if she carries on as chancellor the German government will collapse.
At a Berlin press conference earlier this week, she responded by admitting the “risk” and attempted to explain her U-turn.
She said: “Yes, I am severely deviating from my deep conviction that party chair and chancellorship belong together.
“This is a risk, no doubt. But after weighing all advantages and disadvantages I have come to the conclusion that it is reasonable to risk this.”