New poll shows Merkel winning German elections

22nd August 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 August 2005, BERLIN - Opposition candidate Angela Merkel continues to bounce back, a new poll on Monday confirmed, showing she has expanded her lead over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder with less than four weeks until German elections.

22 August 2005

BERLIN - Opposition candidate Angela Merkel continues to bounce back, a new poll on Monday confirmed, showing she has expanded her lead over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder with less than four weeks until German elections.

The weekly Forsa agency poll shows Merkel's CDU/CSU up one point and gives its designated coalition with the Free Democrats (FDP) 51 per cent.

Schroeder's Social Democratic (SPD)-Greens government is at 36 per cent, the poll said.

Germany's top six polls now put the CDU/CSU-FDP at between 49 per cent and 51 per cent and the ruling SPD-Greens at between 36 per cent and 38 per cent.

Given Merkel's slim majority, there is still speculation that her party could be forced into seeking a grand coalition with Schroeder's SPD if it fails to win enough votes or if the SPD posts last minute gains as it did in the 2002 election.

The rise of a new Left Party - founded by east Germany's revamped communists and western Germany's WASG protest group - appears to have been stopped, which is good news for Merkel's hopes for a majority.

The Forsa poll put the Left Party one point down at 9 per cent. This decline comes after the Left Party soared to 13 per cent just last month.

Debate over Schroeder allegedly plotting to lure the FDP away from Merkel and into his government with the Greens to keep a majority has been rejected by both the Greens and the FDP. For the Greens the FDP is too "neo-liberal" and for the FDP the Greens too left-wing, officials from both parties said.

In any case, the Forsa poll showed a possible SPD-Greens-FDP government falls far short of a majority with just 45 per cent.

Merkel's rebound appears linked to her unveiling of a shadow cabinet last week.

But there has already been controversy over her high-profile designated finance minister, former high court judge and tax reform expert Paul Kirchhof.

Kirchhof has repeated demands for a German flat-tax of 25 per cent which would be funded by eliminating all current tax write-offs and loopholes.

This clashes with far more modest CDU/CSU election platform tax plans which call for trimming the top rate to 39 per cent from the current 42 per cent.

Merkel at the weekend in effect corrected Kirchhof and said her party remained by its 39 per cent proposal.

Schroeder's SPD has seized upon the differences with party leaders speaking of CDU/CSU "tax chaos."

German elections are scheduled to be held on September 18, assuming the country's highest court gives a final green light.

The Federal Constitutional Court is expected to rule later this week after two members of parliament made legal complaints over Schroeder's calling early elections.

Germany's constitution sets high hurdles for early elections, in part as a response to swiftly changing governments during the ill-fated Weimar Republic of the inter-war years.

DPA

Subject: German news

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