Merkel seeks new party term amid concern over migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel | Sean Gallup  Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel | Sean Gallup Getty Images

Muslim full-face veils should be banned in Germany "wherever it is legally possible", Chancellor Angela Merkel told delegates at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) congress, adding that German law "takes precedence" over the Islamic code of Sharia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who past year opened the door to almost 1 million mostly Muslim migrants, called Tuesday for a widespread ban on "full veil" Islamic coverings.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, visits the podium prior to the general party conference of the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, in Essen, Germany, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

Tuesday's vote in Essen, where she was first elected chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union in 2000, offers a test of Merkel's standing with members.

During her speech the Chancellor stressed her determination to ensure there is no repeat of last year's huge migrant influx.

Merkel ran unopposed Tuesday for the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union - the springboard for her run for a fourth term as chancellor in next year's German election.

Germany saw about 890,000 asylum-seekers arrive a year ago, many after Merkel decided in September 2015 to let in migrants who were stuck in Hungary. "We have repeatedly stated that that situation that occurred in late summer, 2015, cannot, should not, and will not be repeated", she told party delegates.

Polls show a solid lead for the conservatives, though their support is well short of the 41.5 percent they won in Germany's 2013 election.

Popularity for helping migrants waned after several terrorist attacks and an incident where dozens of women said they were groped and robbed by men described as Arabic at a New Year's festival in Cologne.

"The 2017 election will be more hard than any election before, at least since German reunification", Merkel said, citing the "strong polarization of our society".

Merkel is known as a fairly moderate and tolerant politician, so this proposal might have less to do with her own beliefs and more to do with appeasing critics ahead of the 2017 election. At the same time, she said that every refugee case should be regarded as an isolated instance "and not as a part of some crowd".

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