Merkel snaps at name-calling within German coalition

10th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

"Rumpelstiltskin". "Wild sow". The normally staid world of German politics has been enlivened recently by some colourful name-calling within Angela Merkel's coalition. But now she has had enough.

The squabbling in Merkel's fractious centre-right coalition has boiled over in recent days, with members of the Bavarian conservative CSU branding their pro-business Free Democrats allies "a bunch of amateurs" on health policy.

Meanwhile, Free Democrats described the CSU as a "wild sow" for what they deemed destructive input during a controversial health care debate.

And the glamourous rising star of German politics, the aristocratic Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, defence minister from the CSU, was reportedly branded "Rumpelstiltskin", a treacherous and vicious dwarf in a fairy tale.

But the chancellor, often referred to herself, not always kindly, as "Mutti", meaning "Mummy", has now put her foot down.

Such mud-slinging is "unacceptable," she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview to be published on Friday.

Those engaged in name-calling "should not be surprised that respect for politics in general is sinking," she added.

It is not the only thing sinking. The popularity ratings of Merkel, four-times named the world's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine, have plunged recently, due in large part to bickering within the coalition.

For his part, zu Guttenberg made light of his new nickname, saying, according to the Bild daily, that he was pleased to be compared to Rumpelstiltskin, who had the highly useful skill of spinning gold from straw.

"If I could do that in the current budgetary situation, I would love to be Rumpelstiltskin," said zu Guttenberg, who, like all ministers, has been asked to make sweeping cuts given Germany's precarious fiscal state.

© 2010 AFP

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