Merkel wins strong backing at CDU party congress

27th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

27 November 2006, Dresden, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a vote of confidence from her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Monday with 93 per cent of delegates backing her re-election as party chairman. Delegates at the centre-right party's conference in the eastern German city of Dresden were offered a straight yes-no choice, and only 7 per cent of the 936 valid votes were against her. The outcome, an advance on the 88 per cent she gained at her previous CDU election, indicate

27 November 2006

Dresden, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a vote of confidence from her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party Monday with 93 per cent of delegates backing her re-election as party chairman.

Delegates at the centre-right party's conference in the eastern German city of Dresden were offered a straight yes-no choice, and only 7 per cent of the 936 valid votes were against her.

The outcome, an advance on the 88 per cent she gained at her previous CDU election, indicated she had consolidated her position in the past year since becoming chancellor. When she was first elected chairman 2000, she won over 96 per cent of the delegates.

Giving a keynote address earlier to delegates, she called for more generous social welfare payments to older workers.

The Merkel party has caught its grand coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), on the wrong foot in recent weeks with that proposal and has presented itself as the more welfare-oriented party. The SPD has opposed welfare increases as too expensive.

Giving her blessing to the policy, Merkel asked delegates to the party congress in the eastern city of Dresden to vote for the policy change in tandem with pro-business policies that would relax some German rules against sacking workers.

Key leaders of the CDU have sought in recent weeks to adopt more centrist policies and win voters away from the SPD, which has been Germany's long-time centre-left party.

Welfare cuts in recent years have been controversial. Merkel said she favoured higher rates of social welfare benefit for unemployed people beyond their mid 50s than for younger jobless, because they were "at more risk of not finding any job again."

In a one-hour speech, Merkel admitted that her one-year term in government had not always been smooth, but said it was important that the preceding, SPD-led government under Gerhard Schroeder had been ejected from power.

Merkel said she was capable of dealing "frankly" with Washington as a friend, but with a difference between herself and Schroeder: "We do not do this in a spirit of mistrust, but in a spirit of trust."

She said she would continue to criticise human-rights breaches by both Russia and China, saying, "There'll be no compromising."

DPA

Subject: German news

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