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No election mountain for Merkel

Monday, June 24, 2013 - 03:01

June 24 - Solid finances, no new debts and repaying old ones are among the core campaign issues for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party ahead of the September election. A new anti-euro party, Alternative for Germany, is also shaking up the political debate. With three months to go until the German elections, Joanna Partridge reports on Merkel's chances for winning a third term.

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Three months to go until German elections and the country's most popular politician has launched her campaign to be re-elected Chancellor for a third term. Angela Merkel's steered Europe's biggest economy through the euro zone debt crisis. SOUNDBITE: GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING (German): "Germany will only be successful if it is also successful within the European Union and if Europe as a whole is successful." Her Christian Democrat party has put paying back debt, solid finances and investment in the future at the heart of their campaign. Her policies may not have made her popular abroad. But it's a very different matter at home says Manfred Goertemaker, a history professor at Potsdam University. SOUNDBITE: Manfred Goertemaker, History professor at Potsdam University, saying (English): "It is very likely that she will continue as German Chancellor. The only question is, with what form of government, will it be a grand coalition, or will it be a continuation of her current coalition with the liberals? The programmes of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats are hardly different from each other, so in this respect also it is very likely that German policy will continue." Merkel's current coalition partners - the Free Democrats - could be replaced by the Social Democrats. She's worked with them before. Former Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck is their candidate But German media are reporting deep divisions within his party. SOUNDBITE: Manfred Goertemaker, History professor at Potsdam University, saying (English): "Mr Steinbrueck is not very popular at all, not even in his own party, and especially women dislike him, so he has a real problem to attract voters, and this weakness of the candidate of the Social Democrats is of course also one of the great strengths of Angela Merkel." A new, eurosceptic, party is hoping to shake up the political debate. Alternative for Germany - or AfD - was founded by economics professor Bernd Lucke in April. They want Germany to leave the euro zone. SOUNDBITE: Bernd Lucke, Chairman of Alternative for Germany, saying (English): "This three-year-old crisis keeps getting worse. Every year we are approving higher payments, every year the level of debt in the southern countries is increasing, every year more countries are sucked into the crisis. Ladies and gentlemen, there doesn't seem to be a way out, and government has no plan B." Some Germans may choose a protest vote come September. At the same time, the rest of Europe will be watching closely to see what happens in Berlin, in case it marks any change in the way Germany deals with the rest of the region. While the AfD may have touched a nerve with some Germans, latest polls suggest they will struggle to secure the 5% vote they need to get into parliament. SOUNDBITE: Manfred Goertemaker, History professor at Potsdam University, saying (English): "Most Germans would not go so far to reject the euro or to dissolve the euro zone. So in this respect, this new party reflects public opinion to some extent, but most Germans would not go so far to support them." A lot can happen in an election campaign. But with only weeks to go it's hard to see anything that will lead to change at the top.

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No election mountain for Merkel

Monday, June 24, 2013 - 03:01