SPD leader tells party dissidents to shut up

4th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

04 September 2007, Berlin (dpa) - German Social Democrat (SPD) leader Kurt Beck drew widespread support from within the left-of-centre party Tuesday for his call for greater party discipline.

04 September 2007

Berlin (dpa) - German Social Democrat (SPD) leader Kurt Beck drew widespread support from within the left-of-centre party Tuesday for his call for greater party discipline.

Spokesman from both the left and right within the party backed Beck's condemnation of "backbiting" and his demand for greater unity as the midway point in the German electoral cycle passes.

"It was necessary for him to make clear who holds the power, that we should focus on the issues," SPD left-wing member Andrea Nahles said.

The spokesman for the conservative Seeheimer Circle within the SPD, Johannes Kahrs, criticized "snipers" within the party.

"We have been in government for nine years, and we are doing it well," Kahrs said. "Kurt Beck is a good chairman. He leads," he added.

Beck voiced his criticism on national public television Monday and more strongly at a private meeting of the party leadership.

The SPD finds itself ailing in the polls after almost a decade in power, first as the dominant party under Gerhard Schroeder, SPD chancellor 1998-2005, and since then as the junior partner in Christian Democrat (CDU) Chancellor Angela Merkel's broad coalition.

Beck is the party's candidate for the chancellorship in the next elections which must be held by September 2009, but his personal popularity is way behind that of Merkel.

A poll at the end of August gave Merkel 57 per cent, against just 15 per cent for Beck.

The same poll put Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance on 38 per cent, while the SPD lagged behind on 26 per cent.

The inconclusive outcome of the September 2005 elections ousted Schroeder but

forced an unwieldy "grand coalition" on Merkel.

Observers do not believe the arrangement will persist past the next poll, and the parties have begun manoeuvring for political advantage, staking out divergent positions on issues ranging from nuclear power to the German deployment of troops to Afghanistan.

dpa
Subject: German news

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