Angela Merkel on Monday signaled for the first time that she was prepared to change her controversial refugee policy in the wake of heavy losses to the resurgent Right wing in regional elections.
“If I knew what change in refugee policy the people in Germany want, I would be prepared to consider it,” Mrs Merkel said.
“If I could, I would go back in time to be better prepared for the refugee crisis in 2015, for which we were rather unprepared.”
Mrs Merkel was speaking at a specially arranged press conference to address her Christian Democrat (CDU) party’s disastrous performance in Berlin state elections at the weekend.
“I take responsibility as party leader and chancellor,” she said, describing the results as “bitter”.
The CDU slipped to its worst ever showing in the German capital, with just 17.6 per cent.
The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won the highest share of the vote for the far-Right since the Second World War, with 14.5 per cent.
Mrs Merkel said she would not repeat her earlier slogan in the migrant crisis of “We can do it” because it had become “an empty phrase”.
It was the first time she has indicated she is prepared to back down from her “open-door” refugee policy, which has seen the CDU fall to its lowest level in the national polls for four years, and her personal approval ratings plummet.