On paper Merkel’s centre-right coalition had more than enough votes in an assembly of lawmakers and public figures to comfortably secure the election of Christian Wulff as the country’s largely ceremonial head of state.
But some among her three-party government rebelled on Wednesday, voting for the opposition’s candidate Joachim Gauck, causing Wulff to fall short of an absolute majority in two rounds of voting by secret ballot.
Wulff was eventually elected in a third round but it took the longest-ever presidential election process in post-war German history to do so – a major embarrassment for Merkel.
The poll conducted by opinion research institute Infratest dimap for broadcaster ARD reflected overwhelming disapproval from voters over the dramatic affair.
Some 68 percent called it a “disgrace” that Wulff hadn’t gotten enough votes from his own corner, while 77 percent said that “Angela Merkel no longer has control over her government coalition.”
Just 31 percent of the 799 representative participants said that the coalition of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian CSU allies, and the the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) would manage to start fresh again. And a whopping 62 percent agreed that “the coalition of CDU and FDP won’t last much longer.”
But CDU member and Baden-Württemberg state premier Stefan Mappus warned coalition members on Friday not to question Merkel’s authority.
“If someone wants to throw the CDU into a complete crisis, then he will begin a debate over Chancellor Merkel’s leadership,” he told daily Bild.
Mappus did admit that the coalition needed to make a change, though.
“The black-yellow coalition can’t go on this way,” he said, referring to the coalition party colours. “We need more team spirit.”