Merkel has German parliament majority: polls

18th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 August 2005, BERLIN - New polls on Wednesday gave German opposition leader Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance and the Free Democrats a slim parliamentary majority with just over four weeks to go until election day.

18 August 2005

BERLIN - New polls on Wednesday gave German opposition leader Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance and the Free Democrats a slim parliamentary majority with just over four weeks to go until election day.

The three polls indicate that Merkel's CDU/CSU has stopped or slowed a decline in support which analysts warn could prevent it from getting enough votes and thus force it into a grand coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD).

A closely watched ARD TV weekly poll showed the CDU/CSU and the Free Democrats with a majority in the Bundestag, parliament's lower house, for the first time since late July.

The CDU/CSU-FDP would win 49 per cent, according to the ARD poll but this would be enough for a ruling majority given the presence of smaller parties in the chamber.

Merkel's CDU/CSU-FDP would win a straight 50 percent majority said a second Forsa agency poll for the Focus news magazine. This poll showed the CDU/CSU gaining a point over the past week.

In the third poll by Allensbach agency, the CDU/CSU was shown to have lost support in the past week but together with the FDP would still win 50.3 per cent if elections were held now.

A caveat is that the three polls have margins of error ranging from 1.4 per cent to over 3 per cent.

The CDU/CSU is struggling with comments made by CSU Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber which were highly critical of eastern Germans.

Stoiber complained that east Germans or 'Ossis' were "frustrated" and described those who planned to vote for the revamped East German communist Left Party as "stupid calves" who were "choosing their own butcher".

Interestingly, the Forsa poll showed that despite the controversy over Stoiber's remarks, Merkel's CDU was again ahead in economically hard hit eastern Germany with 31 per cent, followed by 29 per cent for the SPD and 26 per cent for the Left Party which had previously been in first place.

Nationwide, Chancellor Schroeder's SPD-Greens government is at almost 36 per cent in the Allensbach poll, 36 per cent according to Forsa, and 38 per cent in the ARD survey.

Most analysts say the Chancellor's SPD-Greens coalition has no chance of winning re-election given that the Greens are stable at between 7 and 8 per cent.

"I am very optimistic that we can win," said Merkel at a news conference in Berlin where she presented a nine-member shadow cabinet including former high court judge and flat tax backer Paul Kirchhof as a possible finance minister.

German elections are due to be held on September 18 if - as expected - the country's constitutional court gives a final green light later this month.

Schroeder called for early elections after his SPD was badly beaten in a regional vote last May but German law sets strict hurdles for dissolving parliament, in part as a reaction to frequently changing governments during the Weimar Republic period.

Following complaints that Schroeder's move is unconstitutional by two members of parliament, a court ruling is needed before the vote can take place.

DPA

Subject: German news

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