Merkel portrays herself as 'safe pair of hands' ... with a small shift to the right

Angela Merkel got re-elected as leader of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Tuesday while repeatedly stressing that the world as we knew it is falling apart and she needs everyone's help in the upcoming election campaign.

"You must help me," she asked CDU delegates at a party conference Tuesday, according to Reuters. "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."

"More than quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the two blocs many people have the feeling that the world is falling apart. We are confronted with a world right now which needs to find its balance."

In reply to her critics that she was too soft on immigration and integration, Merkel called for a ban on burqas and received a standing ovation.

"Here we say 'show your face'. So full veiling is not appropriate here. It should be prohibited wherever legally possible," she said.

Merkel fell out with many CDU party members when she opened the doors to some 1 million refugees last year, insisting that Germany could integrate those who needed to flee from war and terror. Her slogan, "wir schaffen das" (or "we can make it"), provoked widespread criticism from all sides, especially from the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), who gained a substantial share of the vote in recent regional elections.

While Merkel's popularity abroad is unshaken, her domestic standing got seriously hampered by her open-door policy. But she is still perceived as a safe pair of hands despite all criticism. And more than 50 percent of all Germans want her to be the next chancellor.

"I think Angela Merkel is convinced that there is nobody else ho could fill her position in regard to the European problem." Professor Jürgen W. Falter, political scientist and far-right expert at the University of Mainz told CNBC.

Merkel is the only head of state who survived both the financial and the sovereign debt crisis and even benefited from her handling of the crisis and defending German interest.

German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel at the party's federal congress in Essen, Germany.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images
German Chancellor and Chairwoman of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) Angela Merkel at the party's federal congress in Essen, Germany.

"She is highly regarded among almost all other leading politicians in Europe. She is a very strong negotiator and a pragmatist who is able really to form compromises," Falter told CNBC.

While she has shown that she can bring the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin back to the negotiation table, she now needs to show that she also can bring those who feel estranged among her electorate back in her camp. The AfD has attracted those voters in Germany who feel left behind or threatened by an open society.

It will be Merkel's toughest battle and also the one which decides whether she will once be called the chancellor which held Europe together or the one which presided over Europe's demise.

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