More poll misery for Germany's Merkel

16th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

One in five Germans wants embattled Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign and call new elections, with only eight percent saying things can go on as they are, a new poll showed Wednesday.

The Forsa survey commissioned by Stern magazine showed 20 percent of those polled want Merkel to throw in the towel following a torrid eight months since winning a second term in September at the head of a new-look coalition.

The conservative Merkel has been pilloried for her handling of the eurozone debt crisis and for squabbling in her new coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

She has also come under fire for more than 80 billion euros (100 billion dollars) worth of spending cuts unveiled last week for not raising taxes for top earners, prompting angry street protests last Saturday.

Another opinion poll by ARD public television on Sunday showed 53 percent of voters believing that the coalition will not serve out its full four-year term. Spiegel magazine's front cover this week screamed: "Aufhoeren!" ("Give up!").

Commentators believe Merkel faces a make-or-break moment on June 30 when a special assembly elects a new president to replace Horst Koehler, the Merkel ally who abruptly resigned on May 31.

Several FDP members have said they will not vote for Merkel's pick for the largely ceremonial post, regional premier Christian Wulff, preferring instead opposition candidate Joachim Gauck, a former East German human rights activist.

Gauck is also more popular than Wulff, 50, among the German public, surveys have shown, and the self-effacing 70-year-old, the candidate of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, has also become something of a media darling.

Forty-seven percent blame the poor performance of the new government on the FDP, whose feisty leader Guido Westerwelle campaigned on a platform of cutting taxes in Europe's biggest economy, the Forsa poll showed.

Twenty-two percent want Merkel to ditch the FDP and return to the unwieldy old coalition of her first term with the centre-left SPD.

© 2010 AFP

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