Merkel greeted by rousing pre-election chorus
By Kate Millar ,AFPBERLIN -- Chancellor Angela Merkel was given a rousing chorus of “Angie must save the world” Saturday at a last-ditch campaign push for votes as a survey released on the eve of German elections suggested a photo finish.
September 22, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
While the band belted out music, Merkel, smiling and relaxed, joked with supporters at her final stump stop in Berlin before rallying about 4,000 of her conservative troops to back her bid for another four years at the helm of Europe's top economy.
Underpinning her message that every vote counts, the last poll before Sunday's election showed her current coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) set for a down-to-the-wire finish with its rivals.
Their combined tally of 45 percent, to the 44 percent garnered by the leftist opposition taken together, may still not be enough however for her coalition to secure a majority under German electoral math.
“Even with this small lead, the continued governing by this coalition remains uncertain,” Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist from Berlin's Free University said.
Her main rivals, the Social Democrats (SPD) whose candidate to unseat Merkel, Peer Steinbrueck, held a competing rally in the western city of Frankfurt Saturday, scored 26 percent and their preferred allies, the ecologist Greens, tallied nine percent.
However Steinbrueck has ruled out a tie-up with the far-left Linke, which descended from former East German Communists and won nine percent in the latest Emnid poll for Sunday's Bild weekly newspaper.
Merkel appealed for a “strong mandate” in order to “continue to serve Germany, a country respected in Europe ... a country that represents its interests in the world but is also the friend of many countries.”
Later she was to head north to her Baltic coast constituency.
The 66-year-old Steinbrueck, a self-styled straight talking challenger has campaigned for more social justice, slamming what he calls Merkel's empty policy phrases as “stickers on empty bottles” and her “going around in circles”.