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German election: Angela Merkel to rally party ahead of fight with far right

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Angela Merkel with Matteo Renzi, who has resigned after his referendum defeat, and François Hollande, who is not seeking another term. Photograph: Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images

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German election: Angela Merkel to rally party ahead of fight with far right

Chancellor to address Christian Democrats in Essen as she seeks fourth term in office while the likes of Italy’s Renzi and France’s Hollande fall by the wayside

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, is to rally her conservatives at a party conference on Tuesday for a German election in 2017 that she expects to be “tough like no other”.

Seeking a fourth term in office, Merkel must unite her Christian Democrats (CDU) and try to recapture some of her personal popularity, undermined by the crises that have rocked Europe.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi’s referendum defeat and the impending departure of France’s President François Hollande underline Merkel’s status as Europe’s most experienced leader but she needs to win back disgruntled voters at home.

The CDU has seen its support eroded by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has profited from popular concern about the influx in 2015 of around a million migrants, many fleeing war in the Middle East.

“We know our world is changing. It always has been,” said Peter Tauber, the CDU secretary general. “Anyone who promises to be able to stop that isn’t being honest.

“What we are promising is to turn this change in a good direction for our country.”

With Britain poised to leave the EU, Russia testing the Nato alliance and southern Europe’s economies struggling, the CDU will debate a main resolution entitled: “Orientation in difficult times – for a successful Germany and Europe“.

The conference is in Essen, a former industrial hub where unemployment is at 11.6%, twice the national average. It is where Merkel was first elected CDU party chairwoman in 2000.

Returning to Essen, Merkel, aged 62 and chancellor for 11 years, must rally her party to fight off the social media-savvy AfD while also appealing to the centre ground.

Since she declared in November that she would seek a fourth term, her conservatives have gained support.

A survey by pollster Emnid published on Sunday showed support for the conservative bloc – Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union – rising by two points to 37%, the highest level since January.

With her nearest rivals and current coalition partners the Social Democrat trailing by 15 points at 22% as, Merkel stands to win the election next September.

But coalition building could then prove difficult, with the AfD likely to enter the national parliament for the first time.

“In Essen we need to move into fight mode,” said one CDU official.

source : The Guardian

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