• Germany's news in English

Conservatives attack Merkel's leadership

AFP/The Local · 9 Mar 2009, 10:23

Published: 09 Mar 2009 10:23 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

With Europe's biggest economy suffering its worst recession in the post-war period, the latest voter survey this week showed Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) conservatives dropping two points to 32 percent.

Their "grand coalition" partners at the national level, the centre-left Social Democrats - fronted in September's election by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier - gained two points to reach a 27 percent approval rating, a poll from broadcaster ARD showed.

The results mean that an election which seemed like a shoo-in for the CDU/CSU in combination with the liberal Free Democrats - up one point at 17 percent, in third place - now looks less certain.

Leading members from Merkel's conservatives aired their frustrations on Sunday, and Wolfgang Bosbach, their deputy chairman in parliament, worried that voters may stay home on September 27.

"Maybe we have strategists who seriously believe that no great attention has to be paid to conservative voters and their concerns because they will vote CDU/CSU anyway," he told Focus magazine. But there is a big danger, he said, "that this will not pay off because the party faithful will just stay at home or vote FDP," he said.

Günther Oettinger, state premier of Baden-Württemberg, one of Germany's wealthiest and most populous states, also said he had concerns.

"It has to be clear that the chapter of the 'grand coalition' is over, and that a new one is being opened in which the CDU states clearly what it stands for," Oettinger told newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

Merkel’s management of the Opel crisis is hurting her most right now. GM Europe executives came to Berlin this month to ask for more than €3.3 billion ($4.2 billion) from European governments, most of which would come from Germany where the auto maker has its largest operations.

The request has put Merkel, in office since 2005, in a tricky position. Some 750,000 Germans work in the struggling auto sector, not just for car makers like BMW or Volkswagen but also for parts makers such as Bosch or Continental and in other related sectors.

Many of these companies have reported plunging sales, laid off workers, stopped production and warned of shrinking profits, and Berlin is under pressure to step in.

Helping Opel would leave Merkel vulnerable to accusations that she has abandoned her free-market principles, potentially driving voters towards the FDP.

Story continues below…

Conservative Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Friday that Opel should "seriously consider" resorting to protection offered by bankruptcy laws.

But Merkel would also pay a political price for spurning Opel, a German industrial icon that employs 26,000 workers.

For now it is uncertain what Merkel will decide. A government spokesman said on Friday that no decisions will be made for "several more weeks."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd