Merkel coalition doomed: poll

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Almost two-thirds of Germans (62 percent) think Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition will not last much longer after this week's presidential election debacle, a new poll suggested Friday.

More than three-quarters (77 percent) think that Merkel is no longer in firm control of the nine-month-old coalition, the Infratest dimap survey of 799 people commissioned by ARD public television showed.

On Wednesday rebels in the coalition turned what should have been a routine election of a new German president by a special assembly into what analysts and media commentators called a humiliation for Merkel.

Merkel's candidate Christian Wulff was eventually elected, but it took three rounds of voting over a record-breaking nine hours after rebels broke ranks and opted for the main opposition candidate, Joachim Gauck, in the secret ballot.

The left-leaning Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said the vote was the "writing on the wall" for her coalition, while Spiegel magazine said it was her "biggest failure."

Edmund Stoiber, the conservative Bavarian bigwig who unsuccessfully ran for chancellor in 2002, likened the coalition to the squabbling French team in the World Cup, who returned home in disgrace after being knocked out early.

Merkel had been hoping that the presidential vote would get her rocky second term back on track after seeing her popularity ratings plummet since winning re-election last September at the head of her preferred coalition.

The 55-year-old was hammered at home and abroad for her handling of the eurozone crisis while the alliance of her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) with the Free Democrats (FDP) has been plagued by squabbling.

It remains unclear what would be the alternative to the present coalition, however, with the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) recording weak poll ratings.

© 2010 AFP

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