Attack on 'stupid' east Germans splits right
Monday 15 August 2005
The extraordinary comments by Edmund Stoiber, the right-wing Prime Minister of Bavaria, were seen as an insult to Angela Merkel, the conservative party leader and east German who is hoping to become the country's first female Chancellor after the September poll.
Mr Stoiber's criticism was aimed at the 33 per cent of east German voters who have thrown their support behind a new radical "Left Party" which is currently the strongest political force in the region.
"Have you all gone mad?" Mr Stoiber asked voters at campaign rallies in the east. "Only the most stupid of calves vote for their own butcher," he added. His remarks followed similar attacks last week when the Bavarian leader claimed that east Germans voters were "frustrated" and "not as clever" as his native Bavarians.
Mr Stoiber, who has been nicknamed the "Bavarian Pit Bull" for his aggressive campaign style, led Germany's conservatives to defeat in the country's 2002 general election. He refused to apologise for his comments yesterday despite being rebuked by Mrs Merkel and several other senior conservatives.
"I have told him that east and west can only go forward together. Anything else is counter-productive," Mrs Merkel said. "We have only got five weeks until the election and we have to clear up the damage," added Jörg Schönbohm, the conservative leader in the east German state of Brandenburg. "Stoiber should think about what he is doing," he said.
The row seemed destined further to undermine Mrs Merkel's hopes of a certain election victory. Recent opinion polls have suggested that her conservatives can no longer bank on gaining an absolute majority during the election as had been the case throughout June and July.
Her party has adopted the Rolling Stones' hit song "Angie" in a bid to bolster her popularity. But weak television performances and her failure adequately to explain how she intends to tackle Germany's 5 million unemployment problem have prompted commentators to claim she does not deserve to become the next Chancellor.
Mr Stoiber's remarks and his refusal to apologise for them underlined conservative unease about Mrs Merkel's suitability as a candidate for Chancellor. Germany's main television channel noted at the weekend that the conservative prime ministers of several key states were conspicuously absent at Mrs Merkel's campaign rallies in their regions last week.
There were also reports yesterday of an angry shouting match between Mrs Merkel's conservatives and Mr Stoiber over party campaign strategy. Mr Stoiber's Bavarian conservatives were said to have accused Mrs Merkel's supporters of running a "sloppy" campaign.
Equally revealing were remarks by Hugo Müller-Vogg, Mrs Merkel's biographer, who disclosed last week that there was a strong element within Germany's predominantly Catholic conservatives which remained opposed to the idea of an east German female Protestant becoming the next conservative Chancellor.
"There are those who say: if Merkel wins it will be good - if she loses it will also be good," Mr Müller-Vogg said in an interview.
By contrast, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder tried to add to his Social Democrats' gradually increasing popularity at the weekend. Echoing the anti-Iraq war strategy that won him Germany's 2002 election, he warned President Bush against going to war against Iran.
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Israel-Gaza crisis: YouTube footage shows scale of destruction after 50 days of shelling
Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
iPhone 6 'hidden code' could indicate sharper screens or bigger phones
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHER WE CAN HELP ...