Europe

Speculation grows over Merkel's re-election plans in Germany

  • German chancellor Angela Merkel, third left, attends a meeting with US president Barack Obama, left, French president, Francois Hollande, third right, Spain's Prime Minister , Mariano Rajoy, right, Britain's  Prime Minister  Theresa May, second right,  and Italian Prime Minister  Matteo Renzi, second left, at the chancellary in Berlin, Friday Nov.18, 2016.  Obama is joining the leaders of key European countries to discuss an array of security and economic challenges facing the trans-Atlantic partners as the U.S. prepares for President-elect Donald Trump to take office in January. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool Photo via AP)

    German chancellor Angela Merkel, third left, attends a meeting with US president Barack Obama, left, French president, Francois Hollande, third right, Spain's Prime Minister , Mariano Rajoy, right, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, second right, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, second left, at the chancellary in Berlin, Friday Nov.18, 2016. Obama is joining the leaders of key European countries to discuss an array of security and economic challenges facing the trans-Atlantic partners as the U.S. prepares for President-elect Donald Trump to take office in January. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after a meeting of the government heads of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain with U.S. President  Barack Obama in the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy after a meeting of the government heads of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain with U.S. President Barack Obama in the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2016 file picture German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a joint news conference  with the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, at the chancellery in Berlin. Speculation is growing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in general elections next year.  The 62-year-old chancellor is expected to talk about a possible candidacy during a Sunday night Nov. 20, 2016  news conference at the Berlin headquarters of her political party, the Christian Democrats. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn,file)

    FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2016 file picture German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a joint news conference with the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, at the chancellery in Berlin. Speculation is growing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in general elections next year. The 62-year-old chancellor is expected to talk about a possible candidacy during a Sunday night Nov. 20, 2016 news conference at the Berlin headquarters of her political party, the Christian Democrats. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn,file)  (The Associated Press)

Speculation is growing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in general elections next year.

Merkel refused to comment on the possibility during a press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama last week. She said she would announce her plans when the time was right.

However, the 62-year-old chancellor is expected to talk about a possible candidacy during a Sunday night news conference at the Berlin headquarters of her political party, the Christian Democrats.

Several high-ranking party members and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel have in recent days said they expect Merkel to run for re-election in 2017.

Merkel became Germany's first female head of government in 2005.

She also is the first leader of a reunited Germany to have grown up under communism in the former East Germany.