'Angie' Merkel in row with Rolling Stones over song

Tony Paterson
Wednesday 24 August 2005 00:00 BST

Germany's opposition conservative leader Angela Merkel found herself in an embarrassing row with the Rolling Stones after her party insisted it had the right to play the band's 1973 hit "Angie" to promote her at election rallies.

Placards and T-shirts emblazoned with "Angie" and the rasping voice of Mick Jagger intoning the lyrics "Angie ... you're beautiful" feature at nearly every campaign rally Mrs Merkel attends in the run-up to Germany's September poll.

However the Stones' agent, LD Communications, has complained that no one from Mrs Merkel's Christian Democratic party had sought permission from the band to play the song.

"We are surprised that nobody has asked us," a spokeswoman for the group told a US magazine. "We would probably have said 'no' if they had," she added.

Mrs Merkel's party insisted it would not back down yesterday. "We obtained confirmation of our right to use the music today from the German music distribution rights agency, Gema," a spokesman said. "We will continue playing the song."

But the spokesman declined to comment on the suitability of the song's lyrics which include the refrains - "ain't it time we said goodbye" and "All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke. You can't say we're satisfied."

Mrs Merkel is hotly tipped to become Germany's first woman Chancellor after the elections on 18 September. The Christian Democrats are a clear 10 per cent ahead of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats in most opinion polls.

However a poll yesterday suggested that the outcome of the election would result in a grand coalition government comprising conservatives and Social Democrats.

The survey, published by Mannheim university, predicted that Germany's new left-wing Left party would win 8 per cent of the vote and deprive the mainstream parties of the majority they need to form a government on their own.

Although the conservatives and Social Democrats have rejected the idea of a grand coalition, German commentators have noted that the latest poll was conducted by a group of German and American researchers who predicted the outcome of the country's last election in 2002 with almost total accuracy.

Mr Schröder, who swung the 2002 election in his favour through his decision to publicly condemn the US invasion of Iraq, has recently attempted a repeat performance by opposing American threats to resort to military action in Iran.

Yesterday, Mr Schröder's campaign image of "Peace Chancellor" appeared to have been further strengthened by reports that he had been selected as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize because of his stance on Iraq. But the Nobel Institute in Norway refused to confirm the nomination.

"It is correct that politicians from major countries are very often selected," said Gier Lundestad, the institute's spokesman. Other peace prize candidates were said to include Bono and Bob Geldof.

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