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Updated: July 21, 2010 17:20 IST

Merkel admits coalition ‘bumpy’ amid record low in polls

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel. File photo: AP.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. File photo: AP.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday defended her centre—right government coalition, which slumped to a record low popularity rating in a fresh opinion poll.

“As so often in life, once you have what you wanted it ends up being bumpier than expected,” Ms. Merkel told journalist at a pre—summer break press conference.

That is an allusion to the initially high hopes for a harmonious centre—right coalition of Christian Democrats, Bavaria’s Christian Social Union and Free Democrats (FDP) after the previous “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats.

“The last few months have been busy and certainly also turbulent at times,” Ms. Merkel added — stressing that the global economic and financial crisis had presented the government with big challenges.

Ms. Merkel’s coalition would receive just 34 per cent of the vote if an election were held now — the lowest figure recorded for the three parties since polling began in 1986.

The poll comes after Ms. Merkel has faced a string of setbacks and high profile resignations in recent months, including that of the German president — followed by a presidential election in which her CDU candidate struggled to gain a majority.

Ms. Merkel conceded that the unruly tone of discussions within her centre—right coalition had been “unacceptable” at times. “But I think the coalition has pulled itself together a bit, ”the chancellor added.

The centre—right came to power last September, bringing the FDP into government after 11 years in opposition.

Nevertheless, the chancellor said the coalition had made key advances, prioritising education and research funding whilst agreeing to ambitious spending cuts, as well as formulating a framework for healthcare reform.

Ms. Merkel said that plenty of work — and controversy — lay ahead, adding “I can’t promise that there won’t ever be another discussion over something.” She also pointed out that her party’s previous “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats had shielded much of the debate that was taking place now.

The opposition SDP and Greens jointly scored 47 per cent in Wednesday’s opinion poll, which would give them a sufficient majority to govern.

The survey gave the Greens a record high of 19 per cent.

The junior partner governing FDP received just 4 per cent — so low it would put them below the 5—per—cent hurdle to enter parliament.

A representative sample of 2,500 people were questioned by Forsa, conducted on behalf of Stern news magazine and private broadcaster RTL.

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