Berlin mayor: centre-left has "tailwind" to oust Merkel
BERLIN, Sept 19
BERLIN, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Berlin's centre-left Mayor Klaus Wowereit said on Monday his re-election had given Germany's Social Democrats nationwide momentum to unseat the "unspeakable" coalition of conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Social Democrats (SPD) won Sunday's vote in the city state of Berlin to hand Merkel her sixth regional election defeat this year, ahead of a key vote in parliament on the stricken euro zone in two weeks' time.
"I am happy to have given the national party a tailwind," said Wowereit, as he celebrated winning a third five-year term with a 28.2 percent share of the vote.
"In Germany's states we want to establish the foundations to unseat this unspeakable coalition, and form a Social Democratic government to the benefit of all Germans."
Merkel, under fire for her hesitant leadership in the euro zone crisis, is halfway through a four-year term. But election setbacks for her CDU and for her junior coalition partners at national level -- the Free Democrats (FDP) -- have damaged her standing, and could threaten the stability of her government.
She told a news conference the Berlin election result would do nothing to affect her work at national level with the FDP.
The pressure has begun to show, however, in open squabbling within the coalition, particularly over euro zone policy.
The FDP failed in Berlin to pass the five percent threshold needed to win seats -- for the fifth time in a regional election this year. An effort to attract voters in Berlin with increasingly euro-sceptic comments backfired and saw the FDP vote plunge to 1.8 percent from 7.6 percent in 2006.
"It was a very unusual undertaking to attempt to inject false populism over the euro into the campaign... and it was even the vice chancellor who did this," said Wowereit.
He was referring to comments by FDP leader Philipp Roesler, the economy minister and deputy chancellor, about an orderly default of Greece no longer being taboo.
"Voters punished the party and this was the right response to this kind of politics," said Wowereit.
The CDU won 23.3 percent, up slightly from 21.3 percent in 2006 but well below the 40 percent the party used to win in Berlin in the 1980s and 1990s. The Greens won 17.6 percent, up from 13.1 percent in 2006, and the Left party fell to 11.7 percent from 13.4 percent.
The Pirate Party, running on a campaign for reform of copyright and better privacy in the Internet age, came out of nowhere to win a stunning 9 percent.
The SPD and Greens have pledged support for boosting the euro zone bailout fund for countries like Greece in a crucial vote in parliament vote on Sept. 29, when Merkel may face a revolt from more eurosceptic members of her coalition.
One poll last week put support for the SPD at its highest level since early 2008 and showed that an SPD/Greens coalition would beat Merkel's centre-right by 13 points if a national election were to be held now. [ID:nL5E7KE16W ] (Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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