Merkel seeks fourth term to de­fend threat­ened ‘val­ues’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

GER­MAN Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will seek a fourth term in elec­tions next year to de­fend demo­cratic prin­ci­ples in the face of loom­ing threats at home and abroad.

Pre­dict­ing her tough­est cam­paign to date, Ms Merkel said the forces of pop­ulism as well as the un­cer­tainty cre­ated by poll tri­umphs for Brexit and Don­ald Trump meant she had a “duty to serve my coun­try”.

“We are fac­ing strug­gles in Europe and in­ter­na­tion­ally for our val­ues and in­ter­ests and, sim­ply put, for our way of life,” Ms Merkel, 62, told re­porters at the head­quar­ters of her Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU) party.

“This elec­tion will be more dif­fi­cult than any be­fore it, at least not since na­tional re­uni­fi­ca­tion” in 1990, she added, cit­ing a strong “po­lar­i­sa­tion of our so­ci­ety”.

Ms Merkel, the EU’s long­est serv­ing leader, said she had “end­lessly” weighed her choice and knew that in “dis­tinctly dif­fi­cult, even in­se­cure times”, many lead­ers were look­ing to her as a source of sta­bil­ity.

Speak­ing to Ger­man tele­vi­sion chan­nel ARD, she vowed to seek a “strong Europe” af­ter Bri­tain voted to leave the bloc.

Ms Merkel ended months of fever­ish spec­u­la­tion ear­lier by telling CDU lead­ers that she would stand again, a de­ci­sion they wel­comed with “thun­der­ous ap­plause”, party sources said.

She has gov­erned Europe’s top eco­nomic power, which does not have term lim­its, since 2005.

An­other full four-year man­date, which poll­sters say she is likely to win, would tie the post-war record set by her men­tor Hel­mut Kohl, who presided over the 1989 fall of the Ber­lin Wall which united Ger­many.

Ms Merkel is the first woman, the youngest per­son and the only can­di­date who grew up in com­mu­nist East Ger­many to lead the re­united na­tion.

A pas­tor’s daugh­ter and trained physi­cist, Ms Merkel is pop­u­lar among Ger­mans who see her as a straight­shooter and a safe pair of hands in a cri­sis.

How­ever, her de­ci­sion to let in more than 1 mil­lion refugees over the last two years dented her sup­port.

It also re­vived the for­tunes of the rightwing pop­ulist Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many party (AfD), which has har­nessed anx­i­ety about mi­gra­tion.

Nev­er­the­less, ob­servers said re­cent shifts in global pol­i­tics were likely to drive tra­di­tion­ally risk-averse Ger­man vot­ers back into her arms.

Un­der­lin­ing her rel­a­tive strength, Ms Merkel gath­ered out­go­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the lead­ers of Bri­tain, France, Spain and Italy at her chan­cellery on Novem­ber 18 for talks on the fight against ter­ror­ism, cli­mate change and the strate­gic threat posed by Rus­sia.

Mr Obama praised Ms Merkel as an “out­stand­ing part­ner”, adding that if “I were Ger­man and I had a vote, I might sup­port her”. –

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