German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe must plot its own course in an increasingly unreliable world order as she plunged back onto the campaign trail 17 weeks ahead of national elections.
Fresh from a Group of Seven summit marked by a recalcitrant U.S. President Donald Trump, Merkel on Sunday sought to shore up support in her bid for a fourth term, speaking in a Bavarian beer tent to supporters of her Christian Social Union sister party, which has been hostile to her refugee policy.
“The times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over — I experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told CSU supporters spread out on benches drinking beer and eating pretzels in Munich. “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”
“Of course we need to have friendly relations with the U.S. and with the U.K. and with other neighbors, including Russia,” she said. Even so, “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”
After her Christian Democratic Union won three state elections this year, Merkel made her first national campaign appearance in the Bavarian capital promising a stable administration and warned against a Social Democratic-led government. Germany holds a parliamentary election on Sept. 24.
“We thought that after meeting with the U.S. president, she would need a pause to recover,” Horst Seehofer, the Bavarian premier and CSU chairman, said at the rally.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the CSU are forging a joint election platform that will promise a balanced budget, tax cuts and increased security. Seehofer, who was Merkel’s main domestic critic as more than a million migrants entered Germany since 2015, lauded the chancellor as “representing our fatherland excellently” abroad.
The chancellor, hoisting a beer in a tent festooned with the blue-and-white Bavarian colors, said her conservative-led government “held our word” to not raise taxes and balance the budget. She repeated that unemployed has nearly fallen by half during her 12-year tenure.
Merkel also rallied against a burst of populism in elections in France and the Netherlands this year, drawing applause from supporters wearing lederhosen and Bavarian-style dirndl dresses when she called the European Union a “treasure.” She singled out the victory of French President Emmanuel Macron this month.
“I wish Macron all the best for his country, that people have jobs again and that people have a future — that people can believe in Europe,” Merkel said.
For the domestic crowd, Merkel and Seehofer played up the sense of stability of continuing a conservative government, raising the specter that Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz could forge a coalition with the anti-capitalist Left Party.
“We don’t need any experiments” with a left-wing government, Merkel said. “We need a stable government for Germany and we’ll fight for it together.”