Merkel to Rally Party for 2017 Election Battle

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 20: German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel speaks to the media following meetings of the CDU leadership on November 20, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Merkel announced she will run for a fourth term in office in federal elections scheduled for …
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

(AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due Tuesday to outline her battle strategy to counter a wave of populism that has consumed key allies abroad, as she launches into campaign mode for next year’s elections.

Merkel, who has led Germany for 11 years, last month declared that she will run again for the country’s top job but acknowledged that the poll will be “more difficult than any before it”.

Party faithful of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union gathering at a two-day annual congress in the western city of Essen are expected to re-elect Merkel as party chief, rallying behind her bid to stay in power.

At the last vote in 2014 Merkel garnered 96.7 of her party’s support and this week’s ballot will be closely scrutinised for any sign of dissent.

She will also be grilled on how she plans to stop the anti-Islam and populist AfD from further eroding the party’s supporter base.

The CDU has suffered setbacks in five consecutive state polls as voters punish Merkel for her liberal refugee policy which led more than a million people to seek asylum in Germany since the beginning of 2015.