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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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Merkel retains CDU leadership, to run in 2017 German election eyeing fourth straight term

She garnered 89.5 percent of votes to remain

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BERLIN, Germany - German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to impose a ban on face-covering veils ‘wherever legally possible’.>BNN

Merkel, who won a new two-year term on Tuesday to remain the leader of her Christian Democratic Union, also pledged to prevent the migrant influx in the country. 

She garnered 89.5 percent of votes to remain in the running for Germany’s general election next year. 

If elected again, she would serve her fourth straight term. 

However, the number of votes she earned this year was less compared to 96.7 percent two years ago.

Veils such as burqa and niqab are very rare in Germany, and Merkel’s decision comes after the country witnessed violence emerging from and at refugee homes. 

In her 80-minute speech, Merkel said, “Full veiling is not appropriate here — it should be banned wherever that is legally possible.”

Although her pledge drew applause, CDU concluded that imposing an all-out ban was not constitutionally feasible.

Unlike other European nations, Germany opened its doors to around one million migrants last year and initially the entire nation supported her. But after a case involving 12 migrants who allegedly sexually assaulted women in Cologne at the start of the year - people started voting in favour of an anti-immigrant policy. 

A few refugee homes were also set on fire as people feared a sudden surge in terrorism.

Opposition parties and some of her own party members blamed Merkel for her open-arm approach. 

She even spearheaded a deal between European Union and Turkey to accept migrants in March. 

As she started losing ground in the country amidst rising populist and far right challengers, she decide to play safe, imposing a partial ban and tackling immigration strongly. 

Merkel said, “A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not and must not be repeated.”

However, she defended her refugee-friendly stance claiming that every single asylum seeker’s application would be reviewed and all of them would not end up staying in Germany. 

She urged nearly 1,000 delegates present to support her to fight the crisis. 

She said, “You must help me. 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.”

Even though she struck a conservative tone in her speech, her democratic values were reflected in it as well. 

She said the CDU defended the dignity of all people and took a dig at those spreading hate speeches. 

She said, “All of our people determine who the German people are, not just the few, no matter how loud they may be.”

Merkel however warned that the German election next year would be difficult in the wake of populist parties in Europe and U.S. 

She said, “2016 did not bring more calm and stability. On the contrary we are faced with a world, especially after the U.S. election that needs to re-order itself, with regard to NATO and the relationship with Russia.”

“It is our job to be so strong as to prevent that. The 2017 election for the Bundestag will be difficult like no previous election – at least since German reunification. You must help me,” she added.

Burqa bans in other countries

The call for burqa bans is not the first one sounded in Europe. 

France, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland all have partial or full laws banning Islamic veils. 

Norway has also proposed plans for a ban on face-covering veils in schools and universities.

A 2014 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights said France’s ban on full-face veils was consistent with the ‘values of an open democratic society’, but it warned that such law could risk ‘encouraging expressions of intolerance’.

False news

There was a section of speakers who criticised social media networks for facilitating false news. 

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, "The truth remains the truth, and lies remain lies. I don't want to live in a world in which algorithms determine political views."

Volker Bouffier, the Premier of the state of Hesse, said the German audience must safeguard its ‘culture of respect’. 

He said, “That is what differentiates us from the troublemakers, the extremists and those that think you can explain the world in 140 characters.”

The German government has been a regular critic of social media platforms. Merkel even confronted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the United Nations in New York last year and pushed for strict actions against racist posts.

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