The rule would ban burkas in schools and universities, and while driving. Picture: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters

Germany’s Angela Merkel calls for burka ban ‘wherever legally possible’

The German Chancellor’s enthusiastic endorsement of a burqa ban is dominating headlines in Europe.

Analysis by Europe correspondent James Glenday

“The full veil must be prohibited wherever that is legally possible,” Ms Merkel said to wild applause, during a major speech at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party’s conference overnight.

Others are focussing heavily on Ms Merkel’s pledge to send some asylum seekers back home or her comments about Europe’s refugee crisis.

“A situation like that of late summer 2015 must not, should not and cannot repeat itself,” she declared.

The statements are clearly part of a strategy to counter the rising wave of populism that has swept away some of her allies abroad and is threatening to eat away at her party’s base.

But Ms Merkel is not only pitching to the far-right.

Her speech, taken as a whole, seemed yet another effort to offer something for everyone and position her conservative party in the centre of German politics.

Ms Merkel called for tax loopholes for big companies to be closed, spoke in support of free trade, of the importance of strengthening the European economy and then criticised EU member states for not taking enough refugees.

She condemned hate speech, spoke about the importance of education, the challenges of digitisation and then promised to deliver high speed internet to more people.

The next election, Ms Merkel concedes, will be “bitter” and “difficult”.

On her right, she has Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigration party that some surveys suggest is polling higher than 10 per cent nationally.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is still the potential for a broad Coalition of the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party.

“I know I’ve challenged you a lot, that was unavoidable”, Chancellor Merkel told CDU members.

“But it’s rarely the simple answers that advance our country”.

Her greatest challenge, of course, will be convincing all Germans that she still has the right answers after 11 years in charge.

Some of her party’s base already appear to have lost faith.

At the conference, Angela Merkel was the only candidate standing for the position of CDU leader — she only got 89.5 per cent of the vote.

Originally published at on December 6, 2016.

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