German police probe 'blackmail' attempt on SPD's Steinbrueck

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German police probe 'blackmail' attempt on SPD's Steinbrueck

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German police are investigating an apparent attempt to blackmail Peer Steinbrueck, the main challenger to Angela Merkel in this month’s forthcoming election.

His wife is said to have received an anonymous letter threatening to expose details of a cleaner allegedly employed illegally – something Gertrud Steinbrueck denies.

She said in 1999 she had used a Filipino cleaner in Bonn who had social security insurance through her husband. When he later lost his job and residency in Germany, Steinbrueck offered the cleaner a contract, which she declined. She told the cleaner she could not employ her illegally.

Steinbrueck’s husband, whose SPD party trails Merkel’s CDU by about 15 percent in opinion polls, said there was no alternative but to refer the blackmail attempt to the police.

The social democrats’ prospects of forming a winning coalition have also been dented by the poor showing of the Greens, who lost a percentage point according to one new poll putting them on 10 percent.

Surveys suggest Merkel could form a coalition with the CDU’s current partners the liberal Free Democrats. but it’s far from certain.

She could be forced to seek a “grand coalition” with the social democrats.