SPD’s Müntefering sharpens attacks on Merkel

Adopting the role of attack dog as election season heats up, Social Democratic Party (SPD) boss Franz Müntefering attacked conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling her “dishonest” in an interview to be published Thursday.

SPD's Müntefering sharpens attacks on Merkel
Photo: DPA

Müntefering’s broadside in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit focused on Merkel’s role in the rescue of troubled automaker Opel. He accused her of supporting the rescue plan, but then praising Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who openly opposed the bailout.

“This double standard is not believable and harms the negotiating ability of the government,” said Müntefering, who is chairman of Merkel’s junior coalition partner the centre-left Social Democrats. “If the chancellor first says it is necessary, and then praises Guttenberg as a great guy, that’s dishonest. You can’t simultaneously be for and against something.”

Despite Müntefering’s tough words, the SPD’s prospects continue to worsen, as a new poll showed Wednesday.

The Social Democrats lost another three points, gaining the support of only 21 percent of voters in the Forsa poll for Stern magazine. The results are the worst for the SPD since former party leader Kurt Beck was toppled in a backroom coup in September 2008.

The results also mirror the party’s disastrous performance in the European parliamentary elections on June 7, when the SPD managed to get only 20.8 percent of the vote, its worst showing ever.

The poll was taken before the party’s convention on Sunday, where chancellor candidate and current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave a rousing speech promising to fight hard in the election.

Müntefering said he expects Merkel’s current sky-high popularity to plummet as the September 27 election draws near.

“The chancellor isn’t the ideal campaigner because she’s not a convincing communicator,” Müntefering said.

The SPD chairman said the central theme of the election will be over jobs. He promised active intervention by the state in order to preseve jobs.

But voters don’t seem convinced by the SPD’s message. The Forsa poll showed only 6 percent of those polled thought the party would best handle Germany’s problems while 29 percent thought Merkel conservatives would do a better job.

Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union and their Bavarian allies the Christian Social Union fell one point, garnering 35 percent support. The Union’s preferred coalition partner, the free-market Free Democratic Party, gained one percentage point to reach 15 percent support, giving a hypothetical coalition between the two the 50 percent majority needed to form a government.

The Green party gained two points to reach a 2009 high of 13 percent support. The Left party, comprised of former East German communists and disenchanted SPD members picked up one more point to reach 11 percent.

A left-leaning coalition of the Greens, Left Party and SPD would only pull in 45 percent of the vote, according to the poll.

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Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday made a push for equal pay for men and women international footballers after Germany's successful run at the recent European Championships.

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue.

“We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

“That’s why it makes sense to discuss equal pay. I made the suggestion and I’m very grateful that there is a willingness to discuss this issue.”

Germany scored their biggest major tournament success since 2015 at this year’s European Championships, losing to England in the final at Wembley.

Scholz attended the final and also supported the women’s team by tweeting: “It’s 2022, and women and men should be paid equally. This also applies to sport, especially for national teams.”

READ ALSO: Scholz to cheer on Germany at Euro 2022 final

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP headquarters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP (German Football Association) headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had triumphed at the tournament, while the men would have received €400,000 each had they prevailed at the Euros last year.

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said he understood the argument “that equal work and success should also have the same value”.

“I’m willing to discuss in our committees whether our payment system is up to date or whether it should be adjusted,” he said.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg suggested that international footballers’ wages could be evened out by paying women more and men less.

Officials must now “follow up with action” after the meeting, she said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

Scholz said he was “very, very proud” of the women’s performance at the Euros, even if “it didn’t quite work out”.

“I hope it will have a long-lasting effect, not only on the players themselves… but also on football in Germany,” he said.