• Germany's news in English

Steinmeier says coalition cramping election campaign

AFP/The Local · 11 Jul 2009, 09:28

Published: 11 Jul 2009 09:28 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“Neither of the parties that formed the grand coalition can distance themselves completely from what they have done together,” Foreign Minister Steinmeier, chancellor candidate for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) told the foreign press association on Friday.

“I cannot say - and neither can Frau Merkel - that everything we achieved these last four years was bad,” said Steinmeier, who serves as Merkel’s vice-chancellor in the coalition government with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Yet Steinmeier’s somewhat restrained assessment did not stop party chief Franz Müntefering coming out with fighting talk at the weekend, telling Der Spiegel, “Mrs Merkel can start packing.”

“The election campaign begins at the start, or middle of August and then the voters will realise who has what to say, and who has the answers for the future. Then they will see that the Union has nothing but cotton wool to offer.”

Müntefering said Steinmeier would certainly become chancellor. “He knows he can do it. He will do it.”

Yet the SPD have their work cut out for them - a poll released this week by the independent Forsa institute showed the SPD trailing Merkel’s conservative Christian Union bloc with 21 percent support to 37 percent.

If the election were held this Sunday, Merkel would be able to dump the SPD and form a ruling majority with their preferred partners, the pro-business Free Democrats, the poll indicated.

Merkel has managed to appear an adept manager of the crisis in Europe’s biggest economy as it faces its worst recession since World War II, despite criticism that she was slow to react to the precipitous downturn.

Meanwhile Steinmeier, who was the architect of biting labour market reforms under Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schröder, has found it difficult to sell himself as a fierce defender of German jobs in tough times.

The SPD seems to be toying with the idea of making nuclear power a main issue of the election – serious problems with the Asse nuclear waste storage facility and repeated scandalous difficulties with the Krümmel nuclear power station have made the subject news recently.

Müntefering criticised what he said was the pro-nuclear stance of the CDU. “The Union is playing down the dangers, and wants to kill off the nuclear agreement. We will make sure that the nuclear agreement is implemented – to gradually get out of nuclear power. The problematic old power stations by the end of the next legislature period, Krümmel immediately.

Story continues below…

“What is going on in Krümmel stinks to heaven. I can only say – turn the thing off. Vattenfall does not seem capable of running this nuclear power station properly. The people are concerned, and rightly so.”

Müntefering, 69, also confirmed to the weekly magazine he was in a relationship with the 29-year-old Michelle Schumann, who works in his office.

Commenting on the age difference, he said it had always helped him to be around younger people. “It is an enrichment. One gets to know a different view on things when different life experiences mix. One must be prepared to learn from the other and remain curious.”

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
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
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd