Merkel confirms she is ready to run for 4th term as chancellor in 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference, to announce that she will run again for the Chancellorship in the next year general elections, at the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) headquarters in Berlin, Germany, November 20, 2016. © Hannibal Hanschk / Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that she is “ready to run for Chancellor” for a fourth term. She stressed that her nomination is yet to be approved by the Christian Democratic Union at a session in early December.

"I thought about this for an endlessly long time. The decision [to run] for a fourth term is – after 11 years in office – anything but trivial," she told the news conference, adding that this decision was “as difficult as never before” and she expects to face “challenges from all sides.”

She also said that she is ready and willing to serve a full fourth term as Chancellor in case she is elected and added that she took her decision to run for Chancellor taking into account this particular possibility.

The chancellor stressed that, after 11 years in office, she “knows for sure what to do next” and promised to “wage an election campaign that would be absolutely different from all previous ones.”

Merkel went on to say that she will meet Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union, in early 2017 to discuss a joint program for the elections, stressing that Seehofer would not be present at the CDU cession in December.

Earlier at a meeting of the CDU presidency Merkel has said she believes the leader of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), should also hold the chancellor’s post, German dpa news agency reported, citing sources in the presidium of the chancellor’s party.

Many CDU politicians had expected that Merkel would run for both positions again, German media report.

The meeting of the presidency was followed by a session of the CDU ruling panel, which prepared a resolution for the party congress that is due to take place between December 5 and December 7. The congress is expected to elect the party’s leader and approve the candidacy for the chancellor’s post.

Merkel still enjoys the support of most CDU members, who regard her as an “unchallenged” and “the only” candidate for the post of party leader. Earlier, Elmar Brok, a top CDU official in charge of European Union affairs, said that “everyone knows she will run again,” as “there are no other candidates [in the ruling coalition],” as reported by Die Zeit.

According to a survey conducted by the Emnid Institute for the Bild daily, Merkel also enjoys a high level of popular support – 55 percent of Germans would like to see her in the chancellor’s office for a fourth term, while only 39 percent object.

The leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, also welcomed her decision, saying that he was “counting on” Merkel to run for chancellor in 2017.

At the same time, Social Democrats as well as the Green Party said that they are preparing for “tough competition” during the forthcoming election campaign, adding that Merkel’s position is now less secure than before.

“The results of the German parliamentary elections are yet undetermined and Angela Merkel is not unbeatable anymore,” Thomas Oppermann, the leader of the Social Democrats’ parliamentary faction, told the dpa news agency.

However, not all German politicians looked on the news favorably. The leader of the Free Democrats, Christian Lindner, criticized Merkel’s decision, saying the CDU is apparently “playing its last trump and doesn’t even know whether this step will help it.”

“Taking into account Angela Merkel’s weight in the international arena, she would surely be a good UN Secretary General, but her interior policy during her tenure as chancellor was unfortunately unfounded,” Lindner told dpa.

The 62-year-old chancellor was born into the family of a Protestant minister and brought up in former East Germany. After Germany’s reunification in 1989, she served in ministerial posts and as leader of the center-right opposition.

Merkel has been the leader of the CDU since 2000 and held the post of the German chancellor for the 11 years since 2005. If she succeeds in 2017, she will find herself in the company of the two German leaders that held power for the longest periods in the history of modern German – CDU co-founder Konrad Adenauer, and Helmut Kohl.

Adenauer was in power for 14 years, and Kohl led Germany for 16.

Merkel is the first and only woman ever to lead her country.

No other parties have announced their candidates for the 2017 election, except for the Social Democrats, who consider either President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz or Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel as frontrunners for Germany’s top job, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.