After 13 years as Germany’s chancellor, the idea of Merkel stepping off the stage is an almost unthinkable idea — the officials and diplomats BuzzFeed News spoke to could not fathom the EU without Merkel in power. But they are worried that the converging pressure points eventually lead to her undoing.

“It would be the perfect crime. An assisted suicide of Europe,” a former senior government official from a major eurozone country said of Merkel being forced out of office in this way.

For those closest to Merkel, the three fronts are connected — and they go far beyond a battle to hang on to power.

“In a way, you could say she is defending the liberal democratic parliamentary system as we know it,” a source with close insight into her thinking said.