(BBC) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will run for a fourth term in office, members of her conservative party have said.
Mrs Merkel, 62, is expected to formally announce her intention later today (Sunday) at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). General elections are expected in Germany in autumn next year.
Mrs Merkel’s poll ratings have slipped since the height of her popularity but she retains wide support. She suffered an embarrassing regional election defeat earlier this year and is being challenged by the populist right-wing AfD party.
Mrs Merkel said after the polls that she accepted responsibility for the defeats in several states.
She also conceded that her open-door policy towards migrants – embodied in her phrase “wir schaffen das” (we can manage it) – was a factor in the elections in several states.
Germany expected up to 300,000 migrants to arrive in the country this year, the head of the country’s federal office for migration and refugees said earlier this year.
‘Liberal values bastion’
For weeks the so-called Kanzlerinfrage (the chancellor question) has dominated the headlines in Germany, and the news that Mrs Merkel will stand for a fourth term will come as a relief to many, the BBC’s Jenny Hill in Berlin reports.
She will be fighting the AfD party, that has leached votes from all of Germany’s established parties.
Despite controversy over her refugee policy, Mrs Merkel still enjoys high approval ratings and is widely considered to be the only realistic candidate for the job, our correspondent adds.
With the rise in support for right-wing political parties in a number of European countries and this month’s victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections, some analysts describe Mrs Merkel as a bastion of liberal values in the West.
A pastor’s daughter who grew up in communist East Germany, Mrs Merkel has run the united country since 2005.
If she wins next year’s elections she would equal the post-war record set by Helmut Kohl.
Germany – Europe’s economic powerhouse – does not have term limits on the country’s top job.