Angela Merkel laid out her case for a fourth term as German chancellor on Tuesday, seeking to energize her conservatives with a call to ban full-face Muslim veils and the promise of a tougher stance on immigration after a record influx of refugees.
Speaking to a party congress of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Essen, the western rust belt city where she won the party leadership 16 years ago, Merkel sought to present herself as a guarantor of stability in an uncertain world.
The meeting was taking place a month after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and at a time when Europe is reeling from a surge in populism and Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
Merkel has been described as the last guardian of western democratic values,a suggestion she rejected.
"You must help me," she said in an impassioned appeal to 1,000 CDU delegates. "No one, not even someone with great experience, can change things for the good in Germany, in Europe, in the world more or less on their own - certainly not a chancellor of Germany."
She was later re-elected head of the party by 89.5 percent of the delegates present, down from 96.7 percent two years ago.
Europe's most powerful leader announced in November that she would seek to win a fourth term next autumn - a feat achieved by only two post-war chancellors, Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, both of the CDU.
Merkel's decision to allow the migrant influx last year hit her popularity, triggered a damaging fight with her Bavarian allies and led to a surge in support for the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party is expected to win its first seats in the federal parliament next year.
In a nod to these troubles, Merkel began her speech with a promise not to allow a repetition of last year's migrant influx, when nearly 900,000 migrants poured into Germany, and drew cheers when she said the Muslim full-face veil was not compatible with German culture.
"Here we say 'show your face'. So full veiling is not appropriate here. It should be prohibited wherever legally possible," she said in a speech that lasted an hour and a quarter and was followed by 11 minutes of applause.
A year ago, the CDU rejected such a ban.