Merkel re-elected as party leader by 98pc vote
Germany's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) put on a show of total unity at a congress, re-electing Angela Merkel as party leader by a record margin as she prepares to fight for a third term as chancellor next year.
Dr Merkel, at the height of her popularity, was returned as CDU chairwoman with 98pc of votes from delegates who stood and applauded for nearly eight minutes after she praised Germany's economic strength amidst the eurozone crisis and promised to fight for jobs and continued prosperity.
"These are turbulent times and sometimes we find ourselves in stormy waters. But it is the German CDU that has the clear direction to steer our country through these seas," said Dr Merkel.
She said repeatedly that hers was "the most successful government" since German reunification in 1990, a claim opposition parties have ridiculed but which her allies in Hanover cheered.
Dr Merkel, a physicist and Lutheran pastor's daughter from East Germany, has become a towering figure in the CDU, a party that before her had been dominated by men from western Germany.
Known to colleagues as Mutti, or mummy, she sent a reassuring message about where she would take Germany if she wins a third term, a feat accomplished only by Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.
She set out three main goals: equal opportunities for all, including immigrants; prosperity and job security with a legal minimum wage; and solidarity for the weaker elements of society, such as the elderly and depressed areas of the former East Germany.
Dr Merkel has a good chance of winning a third term despite a sharp slide in support for her current coalition partner, the liberal Free Democrats.