Westerwelle inflating the obvious on welfare, says Merkel

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25 Feb, 2010 Updated Thu 25 Feb 2010 09:00 CEST
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Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday took a swipe at her coalition partner Guido Westerwelle on Thursday, suggesting he was inflaming the debate over welfare by trumpeting himself as the lone voice on “taboo” topics.

In an interview with the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Merkel said wasn't helpful to couch ''self-evident'' truths – such as the fact it is better to work than be on welfare – as politically sensitive issues.

“Self-evident facts should remain self-evident, so that you can arrive at a good outcome on the issue,” Merkel told the paper.

Phrases such as “you are not allowed to say” certain things created the impression “of something being verbalised that is not self-evident, and that there is therefore a taboo.” But Westerwelle has used such phrases, Merkel said.

Westerwelle has recently claimed Germany’s workers were becoming the nation’s “suckers” and that people were not sufficiently rewarded for choosing to work rather than be on unemployment benefits.

Merkel herself has in the past raised the same issue – that there needed to be a clear financial benefit to working over welfare – though she has done it with considerably less provocative language.

In contrast to Westerwelle, Merkel also told the paper she did not think tougher sanctions against abuse of welfare entitlements were needed.

Nevertheless, the current centre-rigth coalition of her conservative Christian Democrats, their Bavarian CSU allies, and Westerwelle's Free Democrats was the best one for the country, she said.

Merkel therefore backed a continuation of the “black-yellow” coalition following the coming state election in North Rhine-Westphalia, saying her Christian Democrats and the Greens were still too far apart to govern together there.



2010/02/25 09:00

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