Merkel's CDU party suffered in this year's elections, tarnished by their affiliation to her, but despite her own acknowledgment of her toxicity, party leadership walked away from their own Sunday meeting holding onto the belief that while it will be a rough road ahead for any CDU member running next year, it would be nearly impossible without her.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday she will seek reelection as the leader of one of the most powerful countries in Europe, despite expecting it to be an uphill battle.
But she also said that the campaign before German elections in fall 2017 would be unlike any other she has fought in an increasingly polarized country.
Merkel, while listing her main challenges said, "The European Union is now under great strain, with the euro crisis, with the refugee question, and following the decision of the United Kingdom to want to leave the EU, and with a situation in the world which, to put it delicately, needs to focus itself anew following the elections in America and also regarding the relationship to Russian Federation".
Support for the 62-year-old member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who has been in power since 2005 - has waned over the past year amid fierce criticism of her handling of the refugee crisis and the rise of a right-wing populist movement.
German society was facing strong polarization and the political centre was facing "challenges from all sides", she said.
Clearly the dominant leader in Europe, Merkel urged caution against outsized expectations about what she might yet achieve.
CDU co-founder Konrad Adenauer held the position for 14 years, with Merkel's one-time mentor, Helmut Kohl, holding the record at 16 years in power.
Inscrutable Merkel, who grew up in Communist East Germany, is something of a loner.
A scientist with a low-key manner, Merkel rejected the idea that, after the election of Donald Trump as United States president, she had a lone role in keeping Western liberalism alive. She has also seen a revolt by her sister-party the Bavarian CSU, which wanted to put a cap on migration. It was Merkel herself who broke with Kohl and told her party in 1999, in the midst of a funding scandal, that it should move on without him.
"No person alone - even with the greatest experience - can change things in Germany, Europe and the world for the better, and certainly not the chancellor of Germany", she said.
No wonder perhaps one newspaper here printed Angela Merkel's picture this morning under the headline "Alternativlos" (without alternative).
Her likely coalition partners, the Social Democrats, are some 10 points behind that. Candidates under discussion are SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel and the European Parliament's president, Martin Schulz.Although her conservatives have lost some support at home, Merkel remains respected overseas for her management of the euro zone crisis and overseeing Europe's absorption a year ago of the biggest influx of migrants to the continent since World War Two.
"The coming election will be hard", Merkel said. "We have to work for a good, strong Germany", she added.
The anti-migrant party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) has taken significant support from Germany's established parties - largely in response to the migrant crisis. Die Welt said in its headline, adding that now "her most important task is to groom a successor".
Next month, Italy votes on constitutional reforms that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi considers crucial to his country's modernity. "So Germany and France have a huge responsibility".