Merkel Says Party On Track Even As Germans Question Her Leadership

A new survey has found that a majority of Germans think Chancellor Merkel has little control over her government. Merkel defended herself and her Christian Democrats, saying they were on the right path.

A survey released on Friday by ZDF public television found that 52 percent of respondents felt German Chancellor Angela Merkel "was doing little to set the course for the government." Thirty-seven percent said they approved of the way she was managing the ruling coalition of her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

The FDP joined the CDU in government this autumn, allowing Merkel to end her party's awkward coalition with the center-left Social Democrats. But the new coalition has had a rocky start, with public disputes over promised tax cuts and Germany's growing public debt.

And there has been criticism from both inside and outside Merkel's CDU saying that she has lost touch with the conservative base of the party.

Robert Zollitsch, head of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference said the CDU needed to remember that the "C" in its name stood for Christian and that Christian values should act as a compass for the party.
The CDU regroups

Merkel-rallied-her-CDU-troops-in-Berlin-with-a-message-of-inclusivenessThe CDU gathered in Berlin this week for their annual strategy session and Merkel spoke at the end of the meeting, saying the party was going in the right direction.

She described the CDU as a "mass party for everybody," with something to offer "core voters that have long trusted in the CDU, and also those that have not supported us in the past, but aren't finding answers in the other parties."

Delegates unanimously approved a new strategy paper for the party. Included in that plan is the introduction of tax reforms as early as 2011, as long as legal limits on public debt are not exceeded.

Merkel also said the CDU would focus on family, children and education in the coming year, and creating a society of opportunity. The CDU isn't "a party of exclusion," she said, adding that it was important to her that the party "reaches out to everyone in society."