Angela Merkel calls for tougher anti-terror laws

11th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2005, ESSEN, GERMANY - German opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel on Wednesday defended her controversial vow to raise taxes if elected next month and called for tougher anti-terrorism laws.

11 August 2005

ESSEN, GERMANY - German opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel on Wednesday defended her controversial vow to raise taxes if elected next month and called for tougher anti-terrorism laws.

Speaking at a rally of her Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU), Merkel slammed Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for having failed to cut Germany's jobless rate which is almost 12 per cent.

Merkel said her plan to raise valued added tax to 18 per cent from the current 16 per cent rate was aimed at cutting labour costs. The money raised will be used to trim the amount that employers have to pump into the social welfare system for each worker.

"Non-wage labour costs in neighbouring countries are lower because they are paid for not just by employers and employees but rather by the entire tax system," said Merkel, who added that making labour cheaper was the key to creating new jobs.

Schroeder has pounced on Merkel's tax rise plan and his SPD is putting up thousands of posters with slogans such as "Merkel tax - that'll be expensive".

Turning to security issues, Merkel criticized Schroeder's centre-left government of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens for refusing to install closed circuit video cameras throughout the country as an anti-terrorism measure.

"The murderers in London would not have been found if it had not been for video recordings," said Merkel in reference to last month's bombings in the British capital.

She also called for beefing up German laws on expelling foreigners for hate speech.

"Those who don't want to obey our laws and preach hatred in mosques ... have no right to stay in this country and must be expelled," said Merkel to applause.

Germany has about 3.2 million Muslims - the majority of whom are Turks - out of a total population of 82 million.

Merkel's CDU/CSU leads Schroeder in all opinion polls, but a Stern magazine/RTL TV survey released Wednesday showed a 3 percentage point drop in CDU/CSU support since last week.

The CDU/CSU is now at 42 per cent with the SPD gaining two points to land at 28 per cent, the poll said.

Schroeder's Greens partner and the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), with whom Merkel wants to set up a centre-right government, are both at 7 per cent, according to the poll.

Stagnating CDU/CSU support and the rise of new Left Party, with former East Germany's revamped neo-communists, which the poll shows at 12 per cent, may hinder Merkel from setting up her desired coalition with the FDP after the September 18 election.

Some analysts predict the only option for a Bundestag majority could wind up being a grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD - something which both Merkel and Schroeder insist they do not want.

DPA

Subject: German news

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