Merkel to seek fourth term to face off populism
By Eszter Zalan
Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will seek a fourth term in office in next year's election to defend democratic values in the face of growing threats globally and at home.
"We are facing struggles in Europe and internationally for our values and our interests and, simply put, for our way of life," she told journalists at the headquarters of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.
She was reluctant however, to be hailed as the new leader of the West.
"I am indeed honoured, but I also find it grotesque and even absurd," she told reporters in Berlin, that some have suggested she should be considered the new leader of the free world.
"No person alone, even with the greatest experience, can change things in Germany, Europe and the world for the better, and certainly not the chancellor of Germany," she was quoted by Reuters.
Th EU's longest serving leader, in power since 2005, has seen her popularity drop after she decided to let hundreds of thousands of migrants into Germany in 2015.
The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) cashed in on voters' anxiety about migration and terrorism. She has also seen a revolt by her sister-party the Bavarian CSU, which wanted to put a cap on migration.
There had been speculation that she might not enter the race for a new term.
But with uncertainties created by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US president, her allies hope German voters will rally behind the long-serving chancellor.
"Merkel is the answer to the populism of our time," Saxony state premier Stanislaw Tillich of the CDU was quoted by AFP.
According to a poll for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 55 percent of the electorate want Merkel to stay in office, up from 42 percent in August.
A survey by the Emnid research institute on Sunday put her CDU party at 33 percent, down nine points from the last national election in 2013.
The centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Merkel's grand coalition, were at second with 24 percent.
AfD and the Greens were tied in the race for the third-largest party with 13 percent and 12 percent respectively.
“Germany cannot afford another term for Angela Merkel,” Frauke Petry, leader of AfD wrote on Twitter.