(Reuters) - This week, Angela Merkel addresses fellow Christian Democrats at the party’s annual conference. The next few years will present plenty of challenges: 14-15 Nov, 2010 — CDU party conference in Karlsruhe, where Merkel has to be re-elected as party leader. The result will indicate how much support the chancellor retains.
27 March, 2011 — Regional elections in three German states, the most important in economic powerhouse Baden-Wurttemberg where a coalition of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrat (FDP) coalition has no chance of re-election and Merkel’s CDU, if it gets the most votes, will need an alternative partner. Eight of Germany’s 16 Laender vote next year; the outcome will determine the balance of power in the second chamber, or Bundesrat, where Merkel’s coalition has lost its majority.
Oct-Nov 2011 — The CSU (Bavarian sister party of the CDU) elects its party leader. Will Horst Seehofer stay put or be replaced by popular CSU Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg? A successful challenge would make him a serious rival to Merkel for the conservative leadership.
Dec 2012-Jan 2013 — Regional elections in Lower Saxony: If state premier David McAllister is re-elected, he could become another rival for Merkel.
Sept 2013 — General election in Germany, regional election in Bavaria. Merkel has to decide if she wants to run for a third term (which is not forbidden in Germany). Guttenberg has to decide if he wants to focus on the Bavarian premiership or run for chancellor of Germany.
Andreas Rinke and Stephen Brown