Tuesday 20 February 2018

Merkel makes late appeal as polls show dead heat

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin

GERMAN chancellor Angela Merkel told voters they would be in safe hands with her, as the latest polls showed the tightest of races in the final days before tomorrow's elections.

The latest Forsa poll showed a dead heat between the centre-right and centre-left. Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) were on 40pc, and her coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), on 5pc.

The poll figures showed that neither side has a clear majority and while Mrs Merkel (pictured) is likely to survive as chancellor, she will face a challenge building a new governing coalition.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) were on 26pc in the poll, and their allies, the Greens, on 10pc. The far-left Die Linke, successors to East Germany's Communist party, were on 9pc – though the other left-wing parties have rejected forming a coalition with them.

In a letter posted to around five million German households yesterday, Mrs Merkel made a last-ditch attempt to secure her third term as chancellor.

"Germany has had four good years," she wrote. "We have achieved a lot together. I also want the next four years to be good. If you want me to keep working as your chancellor, then please give your votes to the CDU on Sunday."

Her main challenger, the SPD's Peer Steinbruck, called for more social justice and solidarity in Europe, as well as a more muscular leadership style than what he labelled Mrs Merkel's "going around in circles".

His campaign has been marred by a series of blunders, including a magazine cover photo that showed him giving the middle finger as a non-verbal reply to a question about his struggling candidacy.

With the polls showing Mrs Merkel's centre-right coalition neck-and-neck with the left-leaning opposition, every vote counts.

Lawmaker Dagmar Ziegler Ziegler represents Neuruppin and surrounding communities in the national parliament for the Social Democratic Party. Her party tends to fare better when turnout is high, according to Ulrich von Alemann, a retired professor of politics at Duesseldorf University.

Yet in this wind-swept town of 30,000 an hour's drive northwest of Berlin, many seem willing to relinquish their political voice. The memory of compulsory voting under Communism has left older voters cynical about the electoral process.

"People are tired of voting," said Marina Scherer, who comes to Neuruppin's market twice a week to sell preserves made with fruit from the family orchards.

"Before the Berlin Wall fell, we had to vote, even though there wasn't much choice. They used to carry the ballot boxes round to each house." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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