German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Sunday she is seeking a fourth term as head of government.
Merkel told reporters she had a meeting with high ranking members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) before officially sharing the decision.
“I literally thought about this decision endlessly ... but I am ready to run for office again,” she said.
"It is not about a decision for an election campaign, but a decision for a term of office lasting four years, if - as is always the case - health allows this,” she added.
Germany’s first woman chancellor has been widely considered a stabilizing force in Europe at a time of uncertainty after Britain's referendum to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.
If the 62-year-old Merkel wins in 2017 and serves the entire four-year term, she would match her one-time mentor Helmut Kohl's post-war record of 16 years in office.
As Germany’s chancellor since 2005, Merkel has led Europe's largest economy through the financial and eurozone debt crises, winning international respect. U.S. President Barack Obama called Merkel an "outstanding" ally during his visit to Germany last week, his final one as president. She has also been dealing with the ongoing migrant crisis across Europe.
In September, Merkel surprised the country when she said she wished she could have dealt with the migrant crisis differently, after the CDU suffered a major defeat in Berlin state elections, but stopped short of calling it a policy mistake.
Her handling of the migrant crisis has angered many German voters, after she allowed nearly one million migrants into the country. Her popularity dropped and other parties gained ground in local elections, most notably the Alternative for Germany (AfD - Alternative für Deutschland).
On Sunday, she said politics is about balancing interests, compromises and progress.
“I always try to do that on the basis of our values: democracy, freedom, respect for the law, the dignity of every human being independent of background, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position. That is what guides me. That is what I fight for again and again, but we can only be successful together,” Merkel added.
The leader of AfD, Frauke Petry, 41, who like Merkel was born and grew up in communist East Germany, will run against her for the chancellor’s post in 2017 elections.
FILE - Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany, attends a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 16, 2016. Petry, riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany, is seen as a serious challenger for Merkel in 2017.
Forming as a Euro-sceptic party in 2013, the AfD won 4.7 percent of the popular vote in the previous federal elections in 2013, just missing the necessary 5 percent needed to be represented in the Bundestag. After developing anti-immigration policies, the party has won seats in every state election held in Germany since 2014.
“My goal in politics is to work to keep our country together, to make sure we can talk to one another. I know that nobody has a monopoly on the truth. We want to argue with one another like democrats. But that means argue, not hate, not degrade other people or ostracize them," Merkel said.