Schroeder Tells German SPD It Can Erase Merkel’s Lead in Polls

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said his Social Democratic Party can close Angela Merkel’s lead in the polls in the final weeks of Germany’s election campaign just as he did in 2005.

“That was just about the same situation as now: the opinion polls put us at less than 30 percent,” Schroeder told a campaign rally in Detmold today with the SPD’s chancellor candidate, Peer Steinbrueck. “Many people were writing ‘Schroeder, you don’t even need to run.’”

Steinbrueck, who was Merkel’s finance minister during her first term, trails the chancellor in polls as she seeks a third term in elections on Sept. 22. In 2005, Schroeder narrowed Merkel’s lead of about 14 percentage points at a similar stage in the campaign to 1 percentage point on Election Day. While he failed to prevent her from winning the chancellorship, he forced her into a “grand coalition” with his party.

Schroeder, 69, strove to fire up his party’s campaign at the joint rally with Steinbrueck in western Germany, saying Merkel was leading Germany back into the era of Helmut Kohl with proposals such as benefits for women who stay at home to raise children. The Social Democrats lag Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc by as many as 17 percentage points in the six major German party polls.

“Peer, beat your drum and don’t be scared,” Schroeder said.

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