Merkel to rally CDU for poll battle next year

December 03, 2012 - 6:41:54 am

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek to rally her ruling conservatives to win a third term in power next year at a party congress tomorrow, buoyed by her position as Germany’s most popular politician.

With general elections looming in less than a year, Merkel will address the rank-and-file of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at its annual two-day gathering in the northern city of Hanover. Even after seven years at the helm of Europe’s top economy, the 58-year-old enjoys a level of domestic popularity unseen by any post-war leader before her despite heading a fractious centre-right coalition.

During Europe’s economic woes, she has become the ‘go-to’ leader — named by Forbes magazine as the world’s most powerful woman for six out of the last seven years — but has also been maligned for her pro-austerity mantra on the streets of crisis-ravaged eurozone nations. She is expected to be re-elected head of the party she has led since 2000 at the congress.

Merkel recently set the campaign tone boasting hers was the “most successful government since reunification” in 1990, as Germany weathers Europe’s protracted crisis better than many of its neighbours.

In an interview with Bild newspaper, Merkel said Germans were better off today than three years ago but much still had to be done. “Fortunately we have more people in work than ever and clearly fewer unemployed than before my time in office—that’s not only, but also, to do with clever politics,” she said.

However, she may now face choppier waters amid signs that Germany is beginning to feel the pinch with slowing growth in the third quarter and rising unemployment in November. AFP