SPD uses photos of US army coffins on posters

16th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 September 2005, BERLIN - Battling for re-election in a tight race, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party is putting up campaign posters showing flag-draped coffins of dead American soldiers to underline their opposition to the Iraq war, reports said Friday.

16 September 2005

BERLIN - Battling for re-election in a tight race, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party is putting up campaign posters showing flag-draped coffins of dead American soldiers to underline their opposition to the Iraq war, reports said Friday.

Rolf Schwanitz, a state secretary in the Berlin chancellery, is using a poster with five coffins covered by the American stars and stripes being loaded into a transport aircraft flanked by a U.S. military honour guard.

The caption of the poster is aimed at conservative challenger Angela Merkel, who backed the Iraq war while always vowing not to send German troops.

"She would have sent soldiers," is emblazoned across the poster for Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The Chancellor, who narrowly won re-election in 2002 after making his 'no' to the Iraq war a key campaign issue, never misses a chance to attack Merkel over Iraq in election rally speeches.

"As long as we are in office German foreign policy will be made in Berlin and not anywhere else," said Schroeder to cheers at a rally in Potsdam this week, adding that Merkel lacked the strength to stand up to "the kind of pressure" he had to face over Iraq.

Schroeder's use of the Iraq war in 2002 for domestic purposes led to the worst post-war crisis in German-American ties.

The conservative Bild tabloid dubbed the posters "perverse election campaigning."

Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) reacted with outrage to the poster.

"It's totally tasteless! There are limits even in an election campaign - you don't use the dead to win votes," said CDU Secretary General Volker Kauder.

German elections will be held this Sunday.

Polls show a very tight race with Merkel's centre-right alliance short of a majority in parliament.

There is speculation that Merkel may try to form a grand coalition with Schroeder's SPD as junior partner.

But some analysts predict Schroeder will try to cling to power by adding the opposition Free Democrats (FDP) to his SPD-Greens government which all polls show failing to win a majority.

DPA

Subject: German news

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