SPD attacks Angela Merkel over ‘unreliable’ crisis remark

CDU warns a Merkel election victory is far from certain

Peer Steinbrueck, top candidate for Chancellor of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), in the upcoming German general election.

Peer Steinbrueck, top candidate for Chancellor of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), in the upcoming German general election.


Germany’s opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have demanded an apology from chancellor Angela Merkel after she accused them of being “unreliable” in the euro crisis.

The gloves have finally come off in a hitherto civilised election campaign, with the SPD suggesting yesterday Dr Merkel had broken German law with her euro crisis strategy.

With just over two weeks to polling day, the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has warned supporters that a rise in support for a new eurosceptic party – Alternative For Germany – means a third Merkel term is far from a done deal.

Dr Merkel triggered a row after telling ARD public television the SPD were “completely unreliable” in the euro crisis.

The remarks, in a documentary to be screened next week, prompted a furious reaction from the SPD, pointing to is support for the government in every Bundestag bailout vote.

“This is more than just an campaign slip,” said Peer Steinbrück, the SPD’s election challenger. In an apparent nod to the post-election possibility of a second grand coalition with the CDU, he added: “You must realise that, with this, you are burning bridges.”

The chancellor insisted her remarks were taken out of context and referred only to SPD support for proposals to pool sovereign debt at EU level.

Her party said calls for an apology are “election-season outrage” but the SPD has refused to let up. Sensing an opportunity to drag the euro crisis onto the election agenda, SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel suggested yesterday Dr Merkel had “secretly organised a (European) union of liability via the European Central Bank”.

‘Breaching German law’
“With her dealings in Brussels she is prepared to leave European and German taxpayers liable for banks, breaching German law,” he said.

Rather than apologise for criticising the SPD, Dr Merkel instead stepped up her attack yesterday. She told an election rally she had “no reason” to believe SPD promises that it would refuse to consider a three-way coalition with the Green Party and the far-left Linke after the election on September 22.

“If you think that I’ll remain chancellor somehow, it could happen to you that you wake up on Monday morning and you have red-red-green,” said Dr Merkel.

Her warnings reflect growing anxiety inside the CDU of complacency among voters that Merkel will win.

A poll for ZDF television, the first since last weekend’s drawn television debate, suggested little or no change in party support, with 41 per cent for the ruling CDU and its CSU Bavarian sister party and 6 per cent for its current Free Democrat (FDP) ally. The SPD is unchanged at 26 per cent and the Greens at 10 per cent.