Leading German parties launch campaign in conservatives’ southern stronghold of Bavaria | VailDaily.com

Leading German parties launch campaign in conservatives’ southern stronghold of Bavaria

BERLIN – Germany’s conservative challenger in upcoming parliamentary elections pledged to stimulate growth and create jobs, launching the campaign for her Christian Democrats’ Bavarian sister party in Munich on Saturday.”We need growth, we need jobs and we need security,” Angela Merkel told several hundred members of the Christian Social Union in Munich, which along with her Christian Democratic Union is poised to gain control of Germany in Sept. 18 elections.Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also launched his Social Democrats’ campaign in Bavaria, criticizing Merkel’s party’s foreign policy and defending unpopular cuts by his government that contributed to the Social Democrats’ loss in popularity.”I am proud that I was able to push through such policies,” Schroeder told Bavarian party members.Merkel has promised to improve ties with Washington bruised by Schroeder’s outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq. But she has also been wary of backing a military campaign unpopular with German voters and has said she would send no German troops to Iraq if she is elected.Recent polls show the conservatives leading the Social Democrats by about 14 percentage points, reflecting Germans’ frustration with the country’s lackluster economy and dearth of jobs.The conservatives’ campaign motto focuses on creating jobs for the nation’s 4.8 million employed. Merkel is also pledging to increase the value-added tax from 16 percent to 18 percent in order to lower payroll taxes.In response, Schroeder’s party has proposed a new tax in high earners, while the leader of his coalition partners, the Greens, has called for a “luxury tax” on high-priced goods.Vail – Colorado

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