Merkel seeks fourth term to defend threatened ‘values’
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”. –