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Germany's Merkel rules out seeking early elections amid coalition tension

Germany's Merkel rules out seeking early elections amid coalition tension

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday ruled out seeking early German national elections after a string of state votes increased tensions in her governing coalition.
Merkel accused her partner in the alliance of behaving like an opposition leader.
Elections in Hamburg Sunday and in Hesse last month gave neither traditional center-left nor center-right alliances a majority and saw The Left _ a fusion of ex-communists and opponents of economic reform _ expand its reach outside its traditional heartland in the former East Germany.
That underlined the need for Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democrats, Germany's two biggest parties, to seek new alliances as they look to escape from their bad-tempered national "grand coalition" after an election next year.
In recent days, Merkel's party has attacked the Social Democrats over reports that party leader Kurt Beck might allow their candidate in Hesse to form a minority government and seek election as governor by accepting votes from The Left _ with which they so far have refused to work in western Germany.
However, Merkel rebuffed some conservatives' suggestions that such a move could endanger the national coalition.
"We will continue the work of the 'grand coalition' _ we will not speculate with any thoughts of new elections, because we do not want to play games at the expense of voters," she said at a news conference.
The "grand coalition" _ the result of an indecisive 2005 election _ has presided over an economic upturn but has found it increasingly tough to agree on policy as the next election, due in late 2009, comes into sight.
The Social Democrats, or SPD, have been squeezed in polls both by Merkel's popularity and by The Left, which emerged in 2005 and has been establishing itself in western Germany despite Beck's attempts to polish his party's left-wing image.
Beck has stayed out of Merkel's Cabinet _ a decision that gives him latitude to attack the chancellor's party.
Merkel said Monday that Beck "embodies ... the whole inner conflict of the Social Democrats in Germany _ on one hand, belonging to some extent to the 'grand coalition' and on the other, so to speak, playing the opposition as well."
That "naturally does not make work easier," she said.
Merkel pointed to the SPD's poor results in two of three state elections this year as evidence that moving leftward had not helped the party squeeze out The Left.
"The Social Democrats' answer to that is a broken word, a broken election promise," she said. "That will naturally remain as an experience for the German people" before next year's election.
Merkel's CDU has a chance to test a coalition with the Greens _ the SPD's traditional partner _ after it won the most votes in Sunday's Hamburg election, but lost its majority in the state parliament.
National leaders gave CDU Mayor Ole von Beust their blessing to seek a coalition with the Greens, never tried at state level _ a move that could widen Merkel's options for staying in power next year.
If he succeeds, "we have the chance to see for a year or a year and a half how well cooperation would work," CDU general secretary Ronald Pofalla told N24 television.


Updated : 2021-07-31 08:28 GMT+08:00