German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be seeking another term as Germany’s leader in the election next year. The 62 year old Merkel is leading Germany since 2005 and took the decision to run again recently. She said that she thought about it endlessly but felt ready for it. She announced this decision after meeting with her Christian Democrat party (CDU) party members.
Ms. Merkel had previously declined to comment on rerun during her last conference. During Barack Obama’s last international trip at president last week, she didn’t comment on it.
She has been very popular as a premier and referred as “Mutti” or mother. Recently she is struggling to fight the rising tide of anti-immigration feeling. It is worth noting that she allowed over a million refugees from Middle East to settle in Germany.
In German parliament, she expressed surprise on the power of fake news on social media. This has been a major reason for the rise of populists. Merkel also cautioned that public opinions seems “manipulated” on the internet.
She said that “Something has changed as globalization has marched on; (political) debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Now opinions are formed in a very different manner then 25 years ago,”
She said that today fake sites, bots, trolls are there to enforce opinions. Also “these things regenerate themselves, reinforcing thoughts with certain algorithms and we have to learn to deal with them.”
Merkel said that the challenge is to “reach and inspire people”. She said that “we must confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it.”
The Chancellor supported the initiatives by her right-left coalition government to crack down on “hate speech” on social media. She said that she is “concerned about the stability of our familiar order”.
She warned that “Populism and political extremes are growing in Western democracies,”
Recently, Google and Facebook moved to cut off ad revenue to bogus news sites after the US election campaign in which the global misinformation industry may have influenced the outcome of the vote. But media watchers say more is needed to stamp out a powerful phenomenon seen by some experts as a threat to democracy itself.
Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats are the odds-on favorites to win the German national election, expected in September or October 2017. She is facing a strong challenge from a resurgent rightwing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has her liberal refugee and migration policy in its crosshairs.
All of Germany’s mainstream parties have for now ruled out forming an alliance with the AfD.