Europe News

Merkel's Bavarian allies back her for fourth term

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies will back her if she decides to run for a fourth term next year, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) said on Saturday, signalling a possible end of a row over migration among conservatives.

“Angela Merkel is our candidate,” CSU deputy leader Manfred Weber told Spiegel magazine. “There is no doubt about that. I wish this declaration would come fast - from her and from us.”

The CSU, allies of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), have been demanding that Merkel agrees to an upper limit on the number of asylum seekers Germany is willing to accept every year after a record 890,000 arrived last year.

She has rejected such a cap, defending her decision to open Germany’s doors to people fleeing wars and conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer wants Merkel to agree to a cap of 200,000 a year. Other CSU members have said such limit was not needed as the number of new arrivals had fallen drastically this year.

Some 220,000 asylum seekers entered Germany in the first half of this year.

Senior allies of Merkel have been indicating that they expect her to run for a fourth term in 2017 even though her popularity has dipped over the migrant crisis.

Merkel, 62, who has been chancellor since 2005, has repeatedly declined to comment on whether she will run in 2017, saying only that she will make her intentions clear in due course. In September she said she was still motivated.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.