Thursday 18 January 2018

Merkel shows election jitters as Schauble attacks party

Chancellor Merkel gestures during her speech at an election campaign event in Schwerin
Chancellor Merkel gestures during her speech at an election campaign event in Schwerin

Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin

ANGELA Merkel's conservatives yesterday warned German voters not to support a fast-rising Eurosceptic party in Sunday's election.

The speech was prompted by the rise of anti-austerity and anti-European parties.

The Christian Democrats, who have until now ignored the small Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD) party, deployed one of their most respected figures to attack the group.

Wolfgang Schauble, the veteran finance minister, said anti-EU feeling threatened the continent's progress.

"These people claim: 'We'd be better off economically without the euro'," he told the newspaper 'Die Zeit'. "That claim is totally wrong, has no credibility and is extremely dangerous for our prosperity."

EUROSCEPTIC

Referring to British euro-sceptic party UKIP, the rise of which has been well noted in Germany, he continued: "In the UK there is a political movement with a high degree of Euroscepticism. In France, many fear that at the European elections the National Front will be the strongest party.

"I am thankful that we in Germany, perhaps because of our history, are a little cautious of demagoguery and Right-leaning ideas."

He predicted that the AFD would soon fade away as had other "single issue, backwards-looking little groups", but the attack on the AFD reflected growing nervousness in the chancellor's party as polls narrow ahead of the election.

The AFD advocates a gradual dissolution of the eurozone. Despite being formed only in February, it has polled at up to 4pc. If it clears the 5pc threshold for entering parliament, it could rob Mrs Merkel (above left) of any chance of securing another centre-Right majority.

A poll for the 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung' showed the Christian Democrats down a point at 39pc and the Free Democrats, Mrs Merkel's coalition partners, at 6pc, short of a working majority.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, was up a point at 26pc, and its allies the Greens were on 11.

As neither Left nor Right can claim a majority, the most likely outcome is a "grand coalition" of Mrs Merkel's party and the Social Democrats, such as she presided over from 2005 to 2009.

Polling groups have suggested support for the AFD could be higher than polls indicate, as the party's voters see public opinion organisations as part of a distrusted establishment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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