Merkel’s Support in Home District Softens Ahead of Election Bid

  • CDU backing for Merkel at home at 95%, down from 100% in 2013
  • German leader says stands as stable force in ‘uneasy times’

Chancellor Angela Merkel was re-selected as a candidate for the German parliament as she seeks a fourth term in office, with support weakening slightly in a constituency she’s held since German reunification.

At a gathering of Christian Democratic Union members near the Baltic Sea coast, 165 of 173 party members selected Merkel to stand again for the seat she’s had since 1990. The result of more than 95 percent was short of the unanimous support she received in 2013.

Angela Merkel at the CDU meeting on Jan. 28.

Photographer: Stefan Sauer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Merkel, who has led Germany for more than 11 years, has positioned herself as a unifying force in a country increasingly polarized after the region’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. She raised the specter of a world being upended by unpredictable forces.

“We’re living in very uneasy times,” Merkel told the crowd in the town of Grimmen in Germany’s former communist east. “Everywhere there is change, fallout, renewal as well as uncertainty -- and so I think it’s very important for us to know where we come from.”

While Merkel remains popular nationwide and her CDU-led bloc tops every poll, she’s confronting a newly reinvigorated Social Democratic Party under a fresh candidate, former European Parliament President Martin Schulz. On the right, Merkel is contending with undiminished backing for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which has been buoyed by its blunt criticism of her open-border refugee policy.

In her home district, around the Baltic port city of Stralsund, she’ll face off against the AfD’s state leader, Leif Erik Holm, for the lower house seat in the Sept. 24 national election. In a state election last September, Holm swept the party into the state legislature with almost 21 percent support.

Merkel’s CDU-led bloc slid two points to 35 percent, while the SPD gained three to 23 percent in a nationwide Infratest-dimap poll published Friday, days after SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel made the surprise announcement that he’d cede his party’s candidacy to Schulz. The AfD dropped a point to 14 percent, placing third.

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