German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to ban face-covering veils, where possible.
The pledge came in a speech to delegates before she won a new two-year term as leader of Germany’s main conservative party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Merkel struck a decidedly conservative note, stressing her determination to prevent a repeat of last year’s huge migrant influx.
Germany saw about 890,000 asylum-seekers arrive last year, many after Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary. Numbers have since declined sharply, but Merkel’s approach to the migrant crisis has provoked discord within the CDU, which has seen a string of poor state election results this year.
“A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated,” Merkel told party delegates. “That was and is our, and my, declared political aim.”
And it seems as though her stance on burkas was particularly well-received at the party conference.
#Merkel comes out against 'top to toe veil' to huge applause at party conf— David Charter (@DavidCharter) December 6, 2016
Can you imagine Merkel had been talking for FOURTY SIX minutes and her first cheer from he audience was the announcement of a burka ban.🙃— Rhammel O’Dwyer-Afflick (@Rhammified) December 6, 2016
The vote in Essen, where she was first elected chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union in 2000, offered a test of Merkel’s standing with members.
Aside from unhappiness about her migrant policy, some members are grumbling about what is perceived as a wider drift to the left during her 11 years as chancellor.
Polls show a solid lead for the conservatives, though their support is well short of the 41.5% they won in Germany’s 2013 election.
They face new competition from the upstart nationalist Alternative For Germany party, which has thrived by attacking Merkel’s migrant policies.