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Merkel Seeks New Term                  12/06 06:24

   BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday stressed her 
determination to ensure that there's no repeat of last year's huge migrant 
influx as she seeks a new two-year term in charge of her conservative party.

   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 her Christian Democratic Union, 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 at a congress in the western 
city of Essen.

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

   While 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 can't expect 
to get refuge in Germany. Merkel was a driving force behind an agreement 
between the European Union and Turkey earlier this year to stem the flow of 
migrants.

   Merkel announced last month that she will seek a fourth four-year term as 
chancellor in an election expected next September. Her springboard to that run 
is re-election as the chairwoman of the CDU.

   Tuesday's vote in Essen, where she was first elected chairwoman of the 
Christian Democratic Union in 2000, offers a test of Merkel's standing with 
members. Aside from unhappiness about her migrant policy, some members are 
grumbling about what's 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 percent 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.

   Merkel is running unopposed for another term at CDU's helm. Two years ago, 
she won the support of 96.7 percent of delegates, one of her best results.


(KA)

 
 
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