German unions chief warns new Merkel government

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The chief said that the election manifesto of Merkel's new business-friendly coalition partners was a "declaration of war."

Berlin -- The head of Germany's powerful trade union federation warned Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday of tough resistance to her new centre-right coalition following their election victory.

DGB head Michael Sommer said that the election manifesto of Merkel's new business-friendly coalition partners to slash taxes, reduce public spending and make it easier for firms to lay off workers was a "declaration of war."

"If necessary, we are easily capable of mobilising resistance," Sommer told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily in an interview.

Merkel won a second term on Sunday, ditching her centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) as coalition partners and replacing them with the Free Democrats (FDP).

It is unclear, however, the extent to which Merkel will bow to the demands of her new partners. Talks on a common programme from Monday between the FDP and her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) look set to be tough.

"We are a people's party, and within this there is always the economic wing and those who lean more towards the social side," Merkel said on television late Monday.

"As chair of the party and chancellor it is my job to combine economic good sense with social justice."

Sommer said that the "litmus test" on how interested Merkel is in social justice will be when unemployment, which so far has kept steady despite Germany suffering its worst postwar recession, "rises strongly" in the coming months.

"It won't just be people affected with low-qualification jobs," he told the paper. "If all goes well, I think we will be up to our 2007 economic performance by 2013."

AFP/Expatica

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