Merkel tells party to stick to course

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her ruling conservatives on Monday that their poor poll ratings would improve once the benefits of her "contentious" policies became clear.

"It is absolutely fine for decisions that we have taken this autumn to be contentious," Merkel, chancellor since 2005, told a conference of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

"They will prove to have been necessary and at the end of the day they will convince people."

Merkel won a second term in September 2009 and killed off an unhappy "grand coalition" with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in favour of what she called her "dream coalition" with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

But the CDU's poll ratings have remained stubbornly weak, while those of the FDP have plummeted, because of squabbling in the coalition, the decision to keep nuclear power for longer and a refusal to cut taxes.

Next year voters go to the polls in six of Germany's 16 states.

© 2010 AFP

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