Speculation grows over Merkel's re-election plans in Germany

Speaking one week after Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency, Schaeuble said during a panel discussion on the USA election and populism in Europe: "We've had enough of this in Germany, we don't need this anymore".

Her party has slumped in regional elections in the previous year while support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) has swelled.

Obama, in talks with Merkel, conceded Thursday that it would be "naive" of him to expect a breakthrough in the Syria conflict before he leaves office.

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed she will seek a fourth term in office.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Merkel an "outstanding partner" during a joint news conference with the German leader on Thursday and said she might get his support if he were a German citizen and she made a decision to run again. "The decision [to run] for a fourth term is - after 11 years in office - anything but trivial", she told the news conference, adding that this decision was "as hard as never before" and she expects to face "challenges from all sides".

He urged the leaders to look beyond their national crises and focus on the 28-member bloc as a whole, as "the achievements that we have seen on this continent, in contrast to a divided Europe of the previous century, are ones that remind us of how important it is that we work together".

Those words echo what Merkel said this past week, when President Obama paid his final visit both to Germany, the country he visited as a candidate, and to Merkel, the only leader of a major Western power who was in office when Obama was elected.

Theresa May has said the U.S. and Europe are "united" in condemning atrocities in Syria and has warned Russian Federation of the possibility of more sanctions.

Obama's choice of Berlin as the stop for his European farewell tour has been interpreted by some observers as the passing of baton of the defence of liberal democracy to Merkel.

"Everything that's about how it all depends on me, especially after the elections in the USA, honors me, but at the same time I find it very much grotesque and nearly weird", she said. The 62-year-old has led Germany for 11 years and has led her party, the Christian Democrats Union, for 16 years.

The leader, often named the most powerful woman in the world, told reporters in Berlin on Sunday evening that she would seek re-election in 2017. In a system where coalition governments are the norm, many pollsters see another "grand coalition" as the most likely option after the election, although the rise of the AfD makes coalition arithmetic more complicated.The SPD has not decided whether its chairman Sigmar Gabriel, Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister, will run against Merkel.

A date has not been set for the election, but it will take place sometime between August 23 and October 22. "People have the feeling she represents German interests well overseas".

She has been a strong advocate of efforts to combat climate change, and in 2011 abruptly accelerated the shutdown of Germany's nuclear power plants following the meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima plant. According to recent polls, the AfD would win around 10 percent of the vote if general elections were held now. She has also been dealing with the ongoing migrant crisis across Europe.

She added that next year's campaign would "not be a cakewalk".

Domestically, Merkel hinted at her electoral intentions by agreeing to support Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier as the next German president.

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