Angela Merkel wins re-election as party leader and plans to ban burqa

Angela Merkel wins re-election as party leader and plans to ban burqa

Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a new two-year term as leader of Germany’s main conservative party after stressing her determination to prevent a repeat of last year’s huge migrant influx.

Ms Merkel ran unopposed for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union - the springboard for her run for a fourth term as chancellor in next year’s election.

She won 89.5% of delegates’ votes at a congress in the western city of Essen - solid though short of the 96.7% she won two years ago.

The vote came after a speech in which Ms Merkel struck a decidedly conservative note, telling members that she wants to stem the influx of migrants, speed up deportations and ban face-covering veils where possible.

Germany saw about 890,000 asylum-seekers arrive last year, many after Ms Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary.

 

Numbers have since declined sharply, but Ms Merkel’s approach to the migrant crisis has provoked discord within her Christian Democratic Union party, 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," Ms Merkel told party delegates.

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

While Ms Merkel has continued to insist that Germany will take in people in genuine need of protection, her government has moved to toughen asylum rules and declare several countries "safe" - meaning people from there cannot expect to get refuge in Germany.

Angela Merkel wins re-election as party leader and plans to ban burqa

Ms Merkel was a driving force behind an agreement between the European Union and Turkey earlier this year to stem the flow of migrants.

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.

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 Ms Merkel’s migrant policies.

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