• Germany edition
 
Merkel seeks to rally her conservatives for vote
Photo: DPA

Merkel seeks to rally her conservatives for vote

Published: 03 Dec 2012 07:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Dec 2012 07:19 GMT+01:00

With general elections looming in less than a year, Merkel will address the rank-and-file of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at its annual two-day gathering in the northern city of Hannover starting on Tuesday.

Even after seven years at the helm of Europe's top economy, the 58-year-old enjoys a level of domestic popularity unseen by any post-war leader before her despite heading a fractious centre-right coalition.

During Europe's economic woes, she has become the 'go-to' leader -- named by Forbes magazine as the world's most powerful woman for six out of the last seven years -- but has also been maligned for her pro-austerity mantra on the streets of crisis-ravaged eurozone nations.

She is expected to be easily re-elected head of the party she has led since 2000 at the congress.

Merkel recently set the campaign tone boasting hers was the "most successful government since reunification" in 1990, as Germany weathers Europe's protracted crisis better than many of its neighbours.

In an interview with Sunday's Bild newspaper, Merkel said Germans were

better off today than three years ago but much still had to be done.

"Fortunately we have more people in work than ever and clearly fewer unemployed than before my time in office -- that's not only, but also, to do with clever politics," she said.

However, she may now face choppier waters amid signs that Germany is beginning to feel the pinch with slowing growth in the third quarter and rising unemployment in November.

Germans tend not to vote primarily for personalities but the CDU will focus its battle for re-election on the current chancellor, political scientist Gero Neugebauer of Berlin's Free University said.

Her party, he noted however, is also in a "favourable position". "It has the so-called strategic ability to form a majority, that means no government can be formed against it or without it," he told reporters.

Despite dwindling public appetite for stumping up more cash for struggling eurozone countries, Merkel has repeatedly won parliament's backing for crisis-fighting measures over the past three years.

Germany's two main opposition parties again supported the government on Friday in approving Athens' latest multi-billion euro rescue aid amid headlines such as "The Never Ending Story" in mass circulation Bild daily.

But if the crisis drags on, Merkel's credibility could be hit, Neugebauer said.

"The worse the crisis gets and thus the worse the effect on German budgetary and fiscal policy and it also becomes clear to the voters that less money is available for national projects -- that can harm Mrs Merkel," he said.

Raised in former East Germany and the daughter of a Protestant preacher, Merkel rose through the CDU ranks as an outsider in a party of mainly Roman Catholic family men from the wealthy southwest.

She has shaken up the party with a change in direction on education and family policy, support for a form of minimum wage, as well as scrapping conscription and phasing out nuclear energy, Neugebauer added.

"She has taken away a part of its conservative identity by conducting a modernisation policy," he commented.

Merkel told Bild she anticipated a "good, respectful" discussion on the tax treatment of gay couples in Hannover.

She said that she did not favour putting gay couples on the same tax footing as heterosexual ones because the constitution "sees marriage directly linked to the family and both are under the special protection of the state".

Another problem on the horizon is the plunging fortunes of Merkel's current coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, who, surveys suggest, will struggle to cross the five-percent threshold to enter parliament.

Merkel's CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, lead the main opposition Social Democrats by 11 points, according to a poll for Stern magazine and RTL television last week.

Her main rival, Peer Steinbrück, 65, of the SPD, a former finance minister in a 2005 to 2009 "grand coalition" with the CDU, has been embroiled in a nagging fees-for-lectures debate since launching his campaign in September.

All eyes will be on a regional vote in Lower Saxony in January as an indicator of voter sentiment.

Since the 2009 federal elections, the CDU has suffered a number of stinging losses regionally.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Climber, 77, falls 80 metres to his death
The Alps near Innsbruck. Photo: DPA

Climber, 77, falls 80 metres to his death

A 77-year-old German climber fell 80 metres to his death in an Alpine ravine on Tuesday. READ  

State leader defends plans for 'Russia Day'
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state premier Erwin Sellering is a big fan of Russia. Photo: DPA

State leader defends plans for 'Russia Day'

The leader of a state in eastern Germany is not letting the worst crisis between Russia and Europe since the Cold War get in the way of his plans to celebrate "Russia Day", despite critical voices calling him a "Putin sympathizer". READ  

Champions League
Borussia Dortmund outgun Arsenal in opener
Dortmund players celebrate at the final whistle. Photo: DPA

Borussia Dortmund outgun Arsenal in opener

Italian striker Ciro Immobile scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund as the German side produced a dominant performance to outclass Arsenal 2-0 in their Champions League opening group game in Dortmund on Tuesday. READ  

German Muslims protest against extremism
Muslim Coordination Council spokesman Ali Kizilkazya speaking in Berlin on Tuesday. Photo:DPA

German Muslims protest against extremism

The biggest Muslim faith organizations in Germany will hold a nationwide demonstration for tolerance and peace and against all types of extremism on Friday. READ  

Frankfurt court lifts national Uber ban
Uber manager for Germany Fabien Nestmann leaves the Frankfurt court on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt court lifts national Uber ban

App-based chauffeur car service Uber is no longer illegal in Germany, a Frankfurt court ruled on Tuesday afternoon. READ  

Chef admits Düsseldorf killing spree
Yanquing in court in Düsseldorf on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Chef admits Düsseldorf killing spree

A gunman who killed three people in Düsseldorf and injured four others in a shooting spree at two lawyers’ offices admitted his guilt on Tuesday. READ  

Man dies six days after chemical blast
The plant was destroyed in the explosion. Photo: DPA

Man dies six days after chemical blast

An engineer who was called to fix a defect at a chemical waste plant which then exploded has died of his injuries – six days after the huge blast near Bremen. READ  

German universities tumble in global rankings
Students at Heidelberg University. Photo: DPA

German universities tumble in global rankings

Three-quarters of German universities have fallen in global standings in the last year, with just one institution among the top 50 in the world, according to rankings released on Tuesday. READ  

Germany prepares to send drones to Ukraine
A Luna drone belonging to the German military. Photo: DPA

Germany prepares to send drones to Ukraine

German unmanned drones could soon be flying over eastern Ukraine to keep an eye on pro-Russian rebel troop movements. READ  

'Why I'm camping for six days outside Apple store'
Photo: The Local

'Why I'm camping for six days outside Apple store'

Most holidaymakers on a week-long camping trip pitch up by lakes or next to the beach. But two Berliners are hoping to break a record by settling in for six days outside the city's Apple Store to be the first to get their hands on new iPhone 6. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Politics
These men want to be the next mayor of Berlin
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
National
Neo-Nazis are attacking newspaper offices
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Election night in Brandenburg and Thuringia
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Berlin spy station sees tourism boom
Photo: DPA/ESA
Tech
VIDEO: How one German astronaut sees Earth
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Photo: DPA
Politics
Are Germans right to want cooler relations with USA?
Photo: Bayernpartei/DPA
Politics
Why some Bavarians want a Scottish 'Yes'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
12 things to do in Berlin for less than a latte
Photo: Facebook
National
Bavarian waiter breaks beer-carrying record
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,307
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd