German Chancellor Angela Merkel
put an end to months of speculation about her political future by saying she would seek a fourth term in next year's federal elections.
"I pondered a lot about it," Merkel told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. "The decision for a fourth term after 11 years is anything ... (but) trivial, not for the country and not for the party, and I say it consciously also for me personally."
Merkel, 62, said she expects the fall 2017 campaign to be her toughest to date.
"The coming election will be difficult," Merkel said. "We will probably be criticized from everywhere, from the right-wing parties and also because of the polarization of our society, also from the left party."
Another stint for Merkel would be significant because a large part of the German electorate is looking for stability in uncertain times after the Brexit vote in Britain, the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the rise of populist movements in several European countries.
"There is a lot of tension within the European Union given the Euro crisis, the question of refugees and the decision of Great Britain to exit from the European Union," Merkel acknowledged at the news conference. "The situation in the world is as such that it needs to sort itself out again with regard also to the United States and Russia."
Merkel has angered many voters with her decision to open Germany's borders to migrants, mostly from war zones in the Middle East. In September, her party suffered a significant defeat in local elections.
The Chancellor has admitted she has made mistakes with the controversial refugee policy.
"There's a lot of criticism with her leadership with regard to her refugee policy and letting asylum seekers come to Germany," CNN political commentator Alice Stewart said Sunday. "There's also lot of uncertainty with regard to Brexit. But those two factors creating an uncertain environment, there could be a good play for her in showing stability."
Merkel was elected Chancellor in 2005, becoming the country's first female leader. The daughter of a Protestant minister, she was brought up in communist East Germany. She entered Germany's parliament in the first post-unification election, serving in ministerial posts and as the leader of the opposition before becoming chancellor.
Merkel said she understood the world was looking at her as a source of stability but rejected the notion that she alone had a role in keeping liberalism alive.
"I'm honored in a way, but also I think it's grotesque and absurd," Merkel said. "No human being on his own, even if there's a lots of experience, can manage to give the world a positive direction for everything, not even a German Chancellor."
Merkel said she has a clear view of the challenges she faces and hopes to be a unifying figure. She said she wants to work for a cohesive society without hate.
"We together wish to argue like Democrats, that means arguing not (to) hate, not (to) degrade somebody, not (to) ostracize somebody, exclude somebody," Merkel said. "I understand in politics that it's our mission as the state to try to solve problems for citizens, to give a framework where people can shape their lives. My mission is to listen to citizens and then in the interests of our community to implement policies."