Steinbrueck says SPD-Greens ahead of Merkel bloc before vote

Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:42pm EST
 
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's center-left opposition is closer to winning a majority in next September's election than Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right alliance, Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck said on Friday.

In a fiery speech to SPD leaders, Steinbrueck acknowledged having initial problems in his campaign to oust Merkel's government but pointed out that the SPD and their allies, the Greens, had moved ahead of Merkel's coalition in the polls.

Steinbrueck said that with the SPD and Greens at a combined 44 percent in opinion polls, they are closer to winning power in September than Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) with 39 percent and their Free Democrat (FDP) allies at just 4 percent.

Both sides would be short of a majority because the opposition Left party was projected by the Infratest dimap poll for ARD TV to win 6 percent - meaning the SPD and Greens would need at least 46 percent to win a parliamentary majority.

The center-right is further away from 46 percent. The FDP would fail to win any seats if it stays below the 5 percent threshold needed to return to parliament.

"I want to run a campaign that will clearly spell out the differences between us and them," said Steinbrueck, a former finance minister whose early campaign has been marred by controversy over his lucrative earnings as a public speaker.

CENTER GROUND

"I want you to help me mobilize our side so that our opponents don't put everyone to sleep like last time in 2009 with a campaign to demobilize us," said Steinbrueck.   Continued...

 
Peer Steinbrueck of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) delivers a speech during a session of the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz