Germany’s chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, faced fresh difficulties last night after

Germany’s chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, faced fresh difficulties last night after a extra opinion poll showed that assist for his Social Democratic party (SPD) has dropped to a record-breaking low of just 22%.

According to the poll as Germany’s ZDF television, Mr Schröder’s government is now the most unpopular in germany since polling records began in 1977. The slump in his ratings follows a difficult week which has seen boiling pensioners, as well as leftwing rebels inside his grant party, denounce his plans for pension reforms.

Last week Mr Schröder announced he was freezing the pensions of Germany’s aged – agency win the first cut agency pension benefits in post-war German history. The cut was one of five emergency measures agreed at a meeting of Germany’s red-green coalition government, designed to plug a shortfall next year in the state’s pension conception. but the ice appears to have despatched his adulation ratings into freefall.

Earlier this week Germany’s biggest pensioners’ community denounced the move. „We are sacrificial lambs,” noted Walter Hirrlinger, ringleader of the VdK service provider. On Thursday night, meanwhile, 15 MPs from Mr Schröder’s own SPD indicated they would vote against the measure when it comes before the Bundestag, or lower house, next month.

It is not clear no matter if the riot will fizzle out closer to the vote. Six SPD rebels threatened to defy Mr Schröder eight days ago over his plans to cut back advantages thanks to the long-term unemployed – prompting the chancellor, who has a big idea majority of just four, to threaten to resign. The rebels voted with the government.

Most normal Germans accept that Mr Schröder’s kit of structural reforms, well-known in that Agenda 2010, is main. But they also appear to be preparing to vote him out of office. The latest opinion poll puts Germany’s Christian Democrat-led opposition on 53%. The SPD has fallen from 27% last month to 22%.

The SPD’s coalition partners, the greens, fall for slipped to 9%. Few analysts query that in the adventure of an ballot the next day the CDU’s leader, Angela Merkel – or Edmund Stoiber, the man Mr Schröder narrowly beat in push on September’s polls – would romp home. The idiosyncratic comfort is that 62% of voters believe the opposition would not score better. germany has suffered from three years of weak increase and unemployment is at 4.2 million.

Earlier this week the country’s six leading economic thinktanks expected that Germany would have stagnant growth this year, besides own 1.7% growth destined year. although most economists support Mr Schröder’s efforts to dig frg out of recession, many arraign him of doing prohibitively little too late. The chancellor said taking any antithetic course would rest assured „fatal consequences”. „We are at a decisive phase,” he said. If the reforms passed, „then we can have fun Christmas, no longer before”.

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