Polls show slim Bundestag majority for Merkel
19 August 2005, BERLIN - After weeks of slipping support, German opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel got some good news Friday with latest voter surveys showing five of the country's six leading opinion polls giving her a slim parliamentary majority.
19 August 2005
BERLIN - After weeks of slipping support, German opposition chancellor candidate Angela Merkel got some good news Friday with latest voter surveys showing five of the country's six leading opinion polls giving her a slim parliamentary majority.
The weekly ZDF TV poll reported a one point rise for Merkel's CDU/CSU to 43 per cent, with its designated Free Democratic (FDP) partner at 7 per cent.
Germany's top six polls give a possible CDU/CSU-FDP coalition between 49 per cent and 51 per cent of the seats in Germany's Bundestag, or lower house of parliament.
Rising support for the CDU/CSU comes despite intense controversy over comments by CSU Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber that eastern German voters were "frustrated" and "stupid calves."
Schroeder's ruling Social Democratic (SPD) coalition with the Greens is at 36 per cent to 37 per cent, the six polls show.
A newly formed Left Party - a merger of former East Germany's post-communists and rebel members of Schroeder's SPD - continues to lose support.
The ZDF poll shows is has slumped to 8 per cent after polling up to 13 per cent late last month.
Berlin's left-leaning Tageszeitung newspaper said this was because voters were increasingly focused on who would rule Germany after the September 18 election.
"If there is not a political earthquake the next chancellor of Germany will be Angela Merkel. And this constellation means that the SPD-critical stance of the Left Party is merely a side-show," said the paper.
The Left Party's problem is that it is a protest movement which has trouble competing now that Merkel has unveiled a shadow cabinet, while Schroeder can hold up popular government members such as Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, said the Tageszeitung.
Some analysts nevertheless predict the Left Party will sweep up enough votes to block Merkel from forming a CDU/CSU-FDP government. This, they say, could force a grand coalition with Merkel as chancellor and Schroeder's SPD as junior partner.
But there is also speculation that Schroeder, who is one of Europe's most wily politicians, may have another plan to ensure his survival.
A grand coalition would keep out the small FDP which is desperate to get back into government.
"The FDP is ready to do anything ... they will walk over corpses to get back into power," said a commentary in the Financial Times Deutschland, the German language edition of the global newspaper.
Both the Financial Times and Franz Walter, a respected political scientist at the University of Goettingen, predict Schroeder will make an offer to the FDP to join his SPD-Greens government - assuming the election results would allow such a coalition.
This politically awkward scenario might permit Schroeder to stay on as Chancellor for another four-year term.
But most observers are still betting Merkel will be the next German leader even though there is a big question mark over what kind of coalition she will head.
The Handelsblatt newspaper said Merkel plans to release a 100 Day Plan in the coming weeks to boost her election chances.
Included in the plan will be moves to loosen Germany's tough laws on sacking workers; trimming back the power of trade unions in big companies; and eliminating state subsidies for people who take early retirement or shift to part-time work, said the paper citing unnamed CDU/CSU sources.
In a final hurdle to German elections, the country's Federal Constitutional Court is due to rule next week on whether the vote can go ahead.
The high court is expected to give a green light despite a legal challenge brought by two members of parliament angry over Schroeder's decision to call early elections.
Subject: German news