Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed by dozens of protestors objecting to airport-noise pollution as she campaigned to help her party retain its 17-year hold on the mayoral seat in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, ahead of polls on March 25.
Merkel, struggling to be heard above the din of drum beats and whistles outside the city’s town hall, said Frankfurt can’t risk losing its reputation as a symbol of stability.
“The presence of the Bundesbank and the European Central Bank shows Frankfurt is a city of stability,” Merkel said late yesterday at a rally in support of the Christian Democratic Union candidate Boris Rhein. “We don’t need any experiments.”
“Frankfurt is a tolerant city, a city in which people sometimes disagree, and that is a good thing.”
Petra Roth, the city’s 67-year-old mayor from the CDU, prompted the early contest last year when she said she would step down before the end of her third term. She’s backing Hesse’s state interior minister Rhein, 40, who faces Social Democrat Peter Feldmann, a 53-year-old who has served on the city council for 23 years.
The vote may be a test of backing for cooperation between Merkel’s CDU and the Green Party, which have a coalition in Frankfurt’s city assembly. After the Green candidate failed to make it past a first round of voting on March 11, the SPD’s Feldmann has appealed for Green support to defeat Rhein. The Hessian minister won the first round with 39.1 percent, compared with 33 percent for Feldmann.
Feldmann is seeking votes among people angered by the opening last year of the fourth runway at Frankfurt’s international airport, Europe’s third-busiest after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle. He supports extending a flight ban by two hours, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
With almost 700,000 people, Frankfurt is Germany’s fifth- largest city after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. A Feldmann win would place all five in the hands of the SPD.
Rhein, who opposes tax increases to plug the budget gap and wants to increase policing, has relied on backing from Roth, who won her third term in the first round in 2007 with more than 60 percent of the vote. Many campaign posters for the CDU candidate feature an image of Roth, the city’s first female mayor, above the words: “My Choice: Boris Rhein.”
Frankfurt’s mayor is directly elected to a six-year term and must work with the coalition in the city’s 93-seat assembly, where the CDU and Greens have held 52 seats since September 2011 elections.
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