German opposition fights itout over chancellor candidate

25th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2004 BERLIN - Germany's opposition Christian Democrats are embroiled in new in-fighting over who should stand as candidate to run against Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the next general elections in 2006.Three Christian Democratic Union (CDU) state party leaders called Sunday on the Bavarian state premier, Edmund Stoiber, to drop immediately any plans he might have to run again as the main opposition candidate for chancellor.Stoiber was narrowly defeated by Schroeder in the 2002 elections and i

25 October 2004

BERLIN - Germany's opposition Christian Democrats are embroiled in new in-fighting over who should stand as candidate to run against Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the next general elections in 2006.

Three Christian Democratic Union (CDU) state party leaders called Sunday on the Bavarian state premier, Edmund Stoiber, to drop immediately any plans he might have to run again as the main opposition candidate for chancellor.

Stoiber was narrowly defeated by Schroeder in the 2002 elections and is thought to be keen on standing again.

But CDU politicians are calling on their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), to give a clear vote of support for CDU leader Angela Merkel.

Hamburg CDU party chairman Dirk Fischer said: "Everybody in the CDU believes that Mrs  Merkel will lead the Union into the next federal elections. It would be helpful if Mr Stoiber would make it clear that he does not want to run as chancellor candidate once
again."

However leading CSU politicians have rejected any discussion on the issue at this stage, still some two years away from elections.

The CSU parliamentary leader in the Bavarian parliament, Joachim Hermann, said: "A clear timetable has already been agreed on deciding this issue at the end of 2005 or early 2006 at the latest.

"We don‘t do ourselves any favours by questioning our timetable just because somebody can‘t thing of anything better to do," he said.

Merkel has come under scrutiny after a political climbdown over Turkey‘s European Union membership aspirations while last week suffering a blow in a party power struggle when a senior member  rejected her appeal to take on a key post.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, who was Merkel‘s predecessor as CDU chairman, turned down her request that he take the high profile parliamentary job of finance policy spokesman.

Merkel also appears to have been the victim of recent party sniping, with a CDU state premier warning of a possible internal plot aimed at toppling her.

The wrangling inside the centre-right opposition is seen by observers as a reason its commanding lead in the polls over Schroeder‘s Social Democrats (SPD) has been steadily dwindling.

Germany's next general election is due in the autumn of 2006 and the race increasingly looks wide open with Schroeder saying he plans to seek a third term.

CDU vice-chairman Annette Schavan told ZDF television Merkel would almost certainly be the candidate chosen to run against him.

She predicted Merkel would convincingly win re-election as party leader at the party‘s congress in December, saying the issue of chancellor candidate would be decided for certain in the new year.

Among those backing Merkel is Brandenburg party chief Joerg Schoenbohm who said: "For me and others in the CDU presidium the chancellor question is already decided. Mr  Stoiber could recognise that everything is running Angela Merkel‘s way."

Hamburg state mayor, Ole von Beust, has also lent his firm backing for Merkel, telling Monday‘s edition of the daily Hamburger Abendblatt: "Frau Merkel is on a courageous reform course."

For this she needs wholehearted support within the party, he said. "She has my complete
backing."

DPA

Subject: German news 

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