Angela Merkel, who has steered Germany through several global crises as its first female leader, said Sunday she will seek a fourth term as chancellor in elections next year, when she could find herself up against the anti-immigrant populist tide that has swept both Europe and the U.S.
“I literally thought about this decision endlessly … but I am ready to run for office again,” Merkel told reporters after meeting with high-ranking members of her center-right party. “I want to serve Germany.”
Repeatedly named “The World’s Most Powerful Woman” by Forbes magazine, the 62-year-old Merkel has been cast by some as the last powerful defender of liberal values in the West following Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president.
The Woman Who Ruined Germany might want to look up the meaning of the word Zeitgeist though:
The nationalist Alterative for Germany party, or AfD, could prove to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to her re-election. The party, now represented in 10 state parliaments, has aggressively campaigned against Merkel’s decision to welcome an estimated 890,000 migrants into Germany last year, many of them Muslims fleeing the war-torn Middle East and Africa.
Trump’s election and Britain’s vote last June to withdraw from the European Union have reflected, in part, growing populist and anti-immigrant sentiment among voters. Elections next year could also see a far-right politician become president of France, which has been beset by violence by Islamic extremists.
Merkel said she expects strong challenges from the left and right fringes as Germany has become more polarized. “This election will be difficult — like no other election since the reunification” of West and East Germany in 1990, she said. A date has not been set for the election, but it will take place sometime between Aug. 23 and Oct. 22.
May she lose, and lose bigly — nothing short of a Hillary Clinton-style disaster would be suitable. Meanwhile, non-German speakers should look up the word, schadenfreude.