Merkel draws up battle lines before 2017 election bid


In a concession to increasingly vocal conservative critics in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the centrist German leader vowed to speed up deportations of failed asylum seekers and appeared to reverse her position in summer that a ban on headscarves was unworkable - and possibly unconstitutional.

Making her pitch for a fourth term, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a "burqa" ban in the country, saying the refugee crisis "must never be repeated".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will outline her battle strategy today to counter a wave of populism that has consumed key allies overseas, as she launches into campaign mode for next year's elections.

The vote in Essen, where she was first elected chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union in 2000, offered a test of Ms Merkel's standing with members.

Merkel fell out with many CDU party members when she opened the doors to some 1 million refugees past year, insisting that Germany could integrate those who needed to flee from war and terror.

Analysts say Merkel faces no serious rival for a congress vote that would give her a two-year term at the head of her party, and at the head of Europe's largest economy.

Merkel's stance regarding the migrant crisis has caused quite a bit of consternation within the CDU and has led to a string of upsetting state election results.

It does not belong to us, she said at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) gathering.

"That was and is our, and my, declared political aim", she said.

Merkel's open immigration policies contributed to a recent political setback for her and her party.

Merkel was reportedly met with "overwhelming applause" at her party's convention when she said the traditionally Islamic garment "is not appropriate" in Germany and "should be forbidden wherever that is legally possible". Anti-refugee and immigrant sentiment, fueled by Germany's anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, seems partially to blame for a massive spike in attacks against refugee shelters in the country.

Turning to those who post online messages that are anti-mass migration and "hate messages" on social media, Mrs. Merkel said: "Sometimes you have the impression that some who have been living here for a long time in Germany urgently need integration courses".

Aside from unhappiness about her migrant policy, some party members are grumbling about what's perceived as a drift to the left during her 11 years as chancellor.

Merkel said tough times demand tough decisions.

Later in the video chat, she added: 'Don't think on a personal level that I'm not taking your fear seriously, just so we don't misunderstand each other.



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