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Merkel under pressure after election setback

Merkel under pressure after election setback
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“Don’t panic” is the message from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to her Christian Democrat colleagues after the party suffered big losses in state ballots ahead of the coming general election. Senior party members have urged her to change her low-key approach to the campaign.

But she insisted the CDU remains on course to win the national poll. She added she expected to be able to form a ruling coalition with the liberals, the conservatives preferred partner. Frank Walter Steinmeier’s Social Democrats, gained ground on the CDU in two of the weekends three state elections. The conservatives remain ahead in the polls, but the outcome has given the centre-left new hope. “It’s a good Sunday, a good electoral night for the SDP, with dramatic losses for the CDU,” Steinmeier said. He added that it was clear the country was against a government involving the conservatives and the liberals. The left-wing party “Die Linke” and the liberal Free Democrats were the big winners on Sunday. Die Linke’s leader took a very positive outlook on the results. “It’s up to the SDP now – they’re in a stronger position to former a government and it’s thanks to us they’re in this position and I hope they’ll do even better,” Oskar Lafontaine said. The Chancellor has so far kept a very low profile and focused on avoiding mistakes. That may now change as the campaign intensifies.