Two-thirds of Germans unhappy with government

 

CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel’s coalition government has fallen out of favour with two-thirds of Germans, just 10 weeks after taking office.

Some 67 per cent of those polled by ARD public television said they are unsatisfied or unhappy with the coalition government, paralysed for weeks by a tax cut row.

Yesterday’s poll showed that a majority of Germans are opposed to €24 billion in tax cuts in 2011, proposed as an economic stimulant by Dr Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP).

Some 58 per cent of Germans oppose the tax cuts, with just 38 per cent in favour. Opposition was even higher among top earners, with 69 per cent opposed.

Not even the FDP’s own voters are convinced: some 53 per cent oppose their own party’s line while 43 per cent said they were in favour.

“The main reason is a rise in government debt to record levels and . . . fears the economic crisis will lead to unforeseen expenditure in the months ahead,” said Jörg Schönborn, head of polling at ARD, referring to a record €100 billion in extra borrowing scheduled for this year.

The poll piles the pressure on an administration that appears unsure of whether an €8.5 billion stimulus scheme before Christmas has done enough to buffer Europe’s largest economy from the worst of the economic crisis.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) want to wait and see how the economy – and the fiscal takings – pan out and are opposed on principle to further tax cuts if they are financed by debt.

Meanwhile, the liberal FDP believes that further tax relief will take the edge off the recession, but has yet to present comprehensive ideas for financing its proposal.

More worrying for the government is that just 28 per cent of Germans are happy with the its performance so far, while two-thirds are less than satisfied or unhappy.

The honeymoon is over for Chancellor Merkel, too.

She suffered an 11-point drop in her popularity, the steepest decline for a chancellor in seven years, with 59 per cent of Germans satisfied with her performance.

Meanwhile, FDP leader and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle raised CDU hackles during a visit to Ankara by describing Turkey’s accession to the EU as “in Germany’s best interests”.

The CDU opposes Turkey’s accession, favouring instead a so-called “privileged partnership”.