German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures after addressing delegates during her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party's congress in Essen, western Germany, on December 6, 2016. AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ
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Merkel, who has led Germany for 11 years, last month confirmed she would run for a fourth term but acknowledged that the election would be "more difficult" than any other she has contested.The CDU has suffered setbacks in five consecutive state polls as voters punished Merkel for her liberal refugee policy, with more than a million people seeking asylum in Germany since 2015 .Merkel's CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU secured a decisive win of 41.5 percent at the last election in 2013 – its best result since national reunification in 1990, on the back of strong approval for her tough stance on austerity for debt-stricken EU nations.Reflecting the mood, party faithful re-elected Merkel Tuesday as chief for the next two years, but gave her just 89.5 percent – her second worst score, and the worst since she became chancellor in 2005 .
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