Merkel ally accuses her of double-dealing ahead of vote

25th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The head of the liberal Free Democrats, Guido Westerwelle, told the mass-market Bild that he had been the victim of such a barrage of attacks from Merkel's conservative camp of late that he questioned her motives.

Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's declared coalition partner of choice after the September 27 general election has accused her of double-crossing him with her campaign.

The head of the liberal Free Democrats, Guido Westerwelle, told the mass-market Bild that he had been the victim of such a barrage of attacks from Merkel's conservative camp of late that he questioned her motives.

Merkel has governed for the last four years in an unwieldy "grand coalition" with her Christian Union's traditional rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD).

Westerwelle said he suspected that Merkel, rather than pursuing an alliance with his Free Democrats, as she has repeatedly stated during the campaign, was in fact seeking a second term for the current administration.

"It is apparent that Frau Merkel has come down on the side of a grand coalition," he said. "This makes me angry, not for me, but for Germany."

Members of Merkel's Christian Democrats, and particularly their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, have recently stepped up their attacks against the Free Democrats, with whom they governed for 16 years under then chancellor Helmut Kohl until 1998.

The conservatives have in particular savaged the Free Democrats' calls for deep tax cuts.

Influential newsweekly Der Spiegel reported in its Monday issue that Merkel might secretly prefer to remain linked with the Social Democrats than the Free Democrats, a smaller niche party.

It argued that the Social Democrats would be a stronger opposition party than the Free Democrats with more seats in parliament, and would likely whip up the trade unions, traditionally close to the SPD, against the government.

Polls show Merkel's Christian Union with 37 percent of the vote, far ahead of the SPD with between 20 and 23 percent support.

The Free Democrats are drawing about 14 percent, more than enough to allow them to form a ruling coalition with the conservatives.

AFP/Expatica

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