Merkel confident that coalition can continue

22nd November 2007, Comments 0 comments

22 November 2007, Berlin - Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed confidence Thursday that her grand coalition could continue to function and her conservative Christian CDU/CSU bloc could work together with its Social Democrat (SPD) partners.

22 November 2007

Berlin - Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed confidence Thursday that her grand coalition could continue to function and her conservative Christian CDU/CSU bloc could work together with its Social Democrat (SPD) partners.

"I am quite confident the cooperation will be successful in the future," Merkel told commercial news broadcaster n-tv two years into her government.

The chancellor said the coalition had achieved much over the past two years. The country's two main political forces have combined to form a government for only the second time in postwar German history, following an inconclusive election in September 2005.

"I enjoy politics. It gives me pleasure to do things for this country," Merkel said.

"We still have the strength and the points in common in this coalition to achieve something," she said, pointing to government plans on health reform, child care and inheritance tax.

Questioned on a weeks-long controversy over her foreign policy and differences with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an SPD member, on how to conduct policy with China, Merkel said there was a need to pull in the same direction.

Steinmeier has indirectly criticised Merkel's invitation to the Dalai Lama to meet her in the Berlin chancellery in September. The invitation has caused a rift in German-Chinese relations.

"For me a foreign policy based on values and one based on our economic interests belong together. These are not opposites," Merkel told n-tv.

In a separate interview with commercial broadcaster N24, Merkel said her "dream" was for China to receive the Dalai Lama and for it to recognise that the real issues were human rights and cultural autonomy for the people of Tibet.

Asked what she wished for for Christmas, she answered, lower unemployment and greater prosperity "so that people can buy what they would really like."

Opinion polls over recent days reveal a favourable political climate for Merkel and her CDU/CSU bloc, while the SPD is at a new low.

A Forsa poll for n-tv found 32 per cent satisfied with the coalition, up from just 13 per cent a year ago.

Another Forsa poll conducted for Stern magazine found support for the SPD at 24 per cent, its lowest level for the year, against 40 per cent for Merkel's CDU/CSU.

The Left Party was on 12 per cent, with the liberal FDP and the Greens each on 9 per cent.

According to the polls, well over 50 per cent of voters would cast their ballot for her in a two-way race against any likely SPD contender, whether party chairman Kurt Beck or Steinmeier.

Under the German electoral system, the chancellor is chosen by parliament following national elections.

DPA

Subject: German news

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