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 Merkel campaigns to remain chancellor as counterpoint to Trump, - Financial Times

Angela Merkel has set out on her bid for a fourth term as chancellor, saying Germany had “never had it so good” and promising to stand for openness and free trade while resisting the kind of populism espoused by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump.

As reported by Censor.NET citing The Financial Times, Angela Merkel, who declared this week that she would again run for office, urged Germany to resist isolationism and criticised Mr Trump's decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

In a speech to the German parliament that was widely seen as heralding her campaign to remain as chancellor next year, Ms Merkel addressed public fears about terrorism, immigration and globalization. She promised voters "security and freedom" in everything from migration policy to welfare benefits.

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Following Mr Trump's election win, Ms Merkel has been hailed as the west's liberal champion - a bulwark against the rising populism that helped to push the U.K. towards its Brexit vote and increased support for rightwing leaders in other E.U. states.

Her speech was aimed at winning back support for the conservative bloc that she will lead in next year's election. Her domestic backing has slipped as Germany has been polarized by her open-door policy on refugees, increasing support for the populist anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party.

However, Ms Merkel firmly rejected the AfD's arguments that border controls would make people safer. "Openness will bring us more security than isolation," she said.

The chancellor also told voters that, even if they felt unsettled in a fast-changing world, the German economy was performing at record levels. "I must say the people in Germany have never had it so good," Ms Merkel told the Bundestag.

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Ms Merkel did not refer to Mr Trump by name, but she made clear her regret about his decision to pull out of the TPP trade agreement and the impact it could have on the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the E.U.

Ms Merkel pledged to spend more money on defence, acknowledging U.S. criticism, including from Mr Trump, that E.U. states contributed too little.

In a warning about the coming election, when she will lead the Christian Democrat party, she said campaigners were increasingly using "fake websites, bots and trolls" to shape public opinion in ways that were catching mainstream politicians unawares. "The way public opinion is shaped is different to 25 years ago," said Ms Merkel. "We have to learn to deal with that."
 
 
 
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