Merkel to make jobs misery top election issue

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 May 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's likely conservative challenger in autumn elections, Angela Merkel, vowed on Monday she would make Germany's jobs misery the top issue in the coming campaign.

23 May 2005

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's likely conservative challenger in autumn elections, Angela Merkel, vowed on Monday she would make Germany's jobs misery the top issue in the coming campaign.

"Unemployment is what moves the people," said Merkel in reference to the country's 12 percent unemployment which has put 4.9 million out of work.

Merkel, who heads Germany's opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is all but certain to be named as a chancellor candidate for early German elections sought by Chancellor Schroeder after his Social Democratic Party's bitter defeat on Sunday in the key industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

"The question has been cleared up: We will go into the election campaign with Angela Merkel," said the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) premier of Hesse state, Roland Koch.

Party officials say Merkel's formal nomination is expected by 30 May after a meeting of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

National opinion polls show that under Merkel the conservatives, including the CSU and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), would win a clear majority over Schroeder's ruling Social Democratic (SPD) coalition with the Greens.

The opposition CDU/CSU-FDP would currently get between 50 percent and 55 percent of the vote, compared with 36-40 percent for Schroeder's SPD-Greens alliance, polls show.

"Gerhard Schroeder does not have very good cards right now," admitted a former leader of the Chancellor's SPD, Hans-Jochen Vogel, in an SWR radio interview.

Social Democratic (SPD) leader Franz Muentefering underlined that Chancellor Schroeder would be running for a third term in the elections which were originally scheduled for autumn 2006.

Muentefering said Schroeder would seek a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in his government by 1 July. SPD sources said the German general election is likely to be held on 11 or 18 September.

DPA

Subject: German news

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