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    German Chancellor and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party CDU Angela Merkel reacts after her speech at the CDU party convention in Essen, Germany, December 6, 2016.

    Merkel Rides Surge of Support as Party Youth Move to Right

    © REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is enjoying a spurt of national support ahead of her pitch for a fourth term in 2017, despite having suffered severe criticism over her immigration policy for more than a year and a backlash from her party's youth wing over migrant passports.

    Merkel, whose Christian Democratic Party held its annual conference, December 5-7, has been boosted by the latest opinion poll by DeutschlandTrend, which shows that 59 percent of those polled supported her bid to stand again for the Chancellorship of Germany in the 2017 election.

    The news comes less than three months since an Infratest dimap poll showed that 51 percent of German thought she should not stand again and an ARD-Tagesthemen poll found that only 45 percent of Germans were satisfied with Merkel's work, her lowest poll rating since 2011.

    She suffered a huge blow in the September 2016 regional elections when her CDU party was beaten into third place in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern winning only 19 percent, overtaken by the populist right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which won 20.8 percent of the vote, coming second to her coalition partners the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which won 30.6 percent of the vote.

    Merkel had come in for severe criticism for opening the floodgates to over a million migrants in the summer of 2015, precipitating the European migrant crisis. At home, she was panned for the crisis of federal states and major cities struggling to cope with processing the migrants, housing them and giving them basic assistance and housing.

    Merkel has vowed to continue her migrant policy — accepting and processing genuine refugees and calling for an EU-wide relocations system — and win over opponents ahead of next year's federal election, despite rising opposition.

    Citizenship Shakeup

    However, her promise to work hard on integration was dealt a blow at her party conference when the junior win won a vote to end the policy of dual-nationality for German-born children of refugees, which was introduced in 2014.

    Prior to 2014, German-born children of refugees had to choose to adopt their parents' citizenship or German citizenship by the age of 23 — an issue demanded by her coalition partners, the SPD. However, in a motion put forward by her party's junior wing, 319 CDU lawmakers voted in favor of scrapping the dual-nationality reforms, against 300. 

    ​(Twitter: "Adopted resolutions from the collection of the articles of the #cdupt16 [CDU Annual Conference 2016"]).

    The move will be seen as a lurch to the right in an effort to heal the rift between the CDU and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), whose leader and German Federal Minister Horst Seehofer has been highly critical of Merkel's soft touch on immigration.

    ​The fact that her party has passed the citizenship motion is a sign that it is moving to the right in an effort to stave off the rise in support for the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party, which has garnered increasing support in recent polls over the issue of immigration — and over the ending of dual-nationality in particular.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    chancellor, German elections, election, CSU, Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Alternative for Germany (AfD), Horst Seehofer, Angela Merkel, Essen, Germany
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