There are twelve applicants for Angela Merkel's job. The CDU will now organise an internal election to determine who will lead Germany's conservative political wing for the years to come.
After the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost more seven seats in the federal state of Hesse Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would not be a candidate again for the party leadership at the CDU Party Congress this year.
The congress will take place from December 6 to 8 in Hamburg, Germany. Just over a thousand delegates will vote for new party leadership.
Twelve CDU politicians have applied to succeed Merkel as CDU leader, and the front-runner is the current CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The current Minister for Health Jens Spahn and the former CDU Parliamentary Chair, and old Merkel rival Friedrich Merz are also in with a chance to take over the mantle.
Before the nation-wide congress, eight regional party conferences will be held from mid to end November.
During these events, all candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their political positions.
"The invitation to the regional conferences should give all CDU members the opportunity to inform themselves about possible candidates", Merkel said.
So, who are the three candidates with the best chance for victory, and what are their ideas? And more importantly, how close are they to Chancellor Merkel?
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, also known as AKK, is the present CDU general secretary and has previously served as the Prime Minister for the Western federal state of Saarland.
The 56-year-old, trusted and supported throughout her career by Merkel, is regarded as a promising candidate.
Merkel brought Kramp-Karrenbauer to Berlin during the Grand Coalition formation (the coalition between the CDU and SPD, the major German political parties) and to many people's surprise made her general secretary and not a minister in her cabinet.
The move was considered clever by many observers since AKK could follow Merkel as a "fresh face", which is not part of the present Grand Coalition.
She has maintained a distance from the government since the Bavarian elections, where the CDU and its sister-party, the CSU, lost 16 seats.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is a social conservative, but when it comes to the economy, she falls further on the left.
Nevertheless, she is regarded as Merkel's successor of choice - and thus leaves out the conservatives in the party who want a shift to the right and an end to the Merkel era.
The ambitious Federal Minister of Health from Westphalia, the most populated federal state in Germany, has repeatedly made a name for himself in recent years as a conservative critic of the Chancellor.
His provocative statements on the refugee policy have sparked criticism for their polarising effects within the party.
Critics argue that he might be incapable of uniting all factions within the party under his leadership. However, Merkel could not ignore Spahn and made him minister for health in her current cabinet.
Though he's regarded as opportunistic and career-driven, his time as health minister is praised by a wide political circle.
Even though many regard his age as a hindrance, he is just 38-years-old, he has been a member of the Bundestag since 2002.
Friedrich Merz is part of the conservative faction within the CDU and is part of the 'old guard' of the party. His economic views are neoliberal.
Although he left politics almost ten years ago, he declared his candidacy a couple of minutes after Merkel's announcement of withdrawal.
The Westphalian lawyer and lobbyist works at Blackrock, an American global investment management corporation.
Many see his candidacy as a chance for him to make a comeback after Merkel pushed him out of the parliamentary party chairmanship he held for two years after the 2002 Bundestag elections. Back then the CDU received only the second most votes.
This was also the start of the beginning of the course of the party towards the political centre.
Merz is regarded as controversial since he has been removed from political life for the past 16 years, and has never held a governmental position.
What will happen to the coalition?
According to Merkel, the vote for the CDU leadership will not impact the coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and she expects the coalition to stay intact.
"There is a common conviction that we will continue the federal government on the basis of the coalition agreement," Merkel said.
Discussions in the SPD, especially in its leftist wing, are leaning towards leaving the coalition.
In the meanwhile, former Chancellor of the Social Democrats Gerhard Schroder told the Rheinische Post newspaper that "If I were Merkel, I'd take the confidence vote."
Schroder's words are critical as they show a division in the coalition.
The probability that a candidate like Merz, if elected, takes over the chancellorship through inner-party manoeuvring, is high.
If Merkel cannot gain a confidence vote, another chancellor has to be elected by the parliament by a majority, and if the parliament fails to do so, early parliamentary elections are on the cards.
Which way this pans out will be clear within a month.
The question remains, will it be an early end for 'Germany's Mother' and the 'Queen of Europe's' political career?