Election Help No Longer Wanted: Merkel Annoyed at Sarkozy's Campaign U-Turn
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is annoyed at French President Nicolas Sarkozy for no longer wanting her help in his re-election campaign, SPIEGEL has learned. She had agreed to make joint appearances with him in the run-up to the April 22 vote, but he has changed his mind because their alliance isn't boosting his poll ratings.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is annoyed at French President Nicolas Sarkozy for changing his mind and no longer wanting her support for his re-election campaign, SPIEGEL has learned.
At the start of 2012, Sarkozy asked Merkel, his close ally in the fight against the euro crisis, to make several joint appearances with him ahead of the French presidential election, to be held on April 22, with a possible run-off vote on May 6.
She agreed, in an unusual intervention in a foreign country's domestic politics, because she wants Sarkozy to win. His main opponent, Socialist Francois Hollande, has pledged to seek a renegotiation of the European fiscal pact on budget discipline, which is central to her strategy for overcoming the European debt crisis and rescuing the euro. Merkel also refused to meet Hollande. But at the end of February, when it became clear that his close ties with the German leader weren't helping his opinion poll ratings, Sarkozy changed his strategy.
Last Wednesday, he made his change in campaign strategy public when he said in a radio interview: "The election campaign is a matter for the French people."
By then, Merkel had already heard he was turning down her help, and she complained to confidants about the Frenchman's erratic behavior. A few days later, she took Sarkozy aside during the EU summit in Brussels at the beginning of March and asked him what was going on. He agreed to hold at least one joint appearance with her.
But sources say that Merkel would now no longer be unhappy if she didn't have to travel to France before the election, because she wants to avoid being associated with Sarkozy's recent right-wing populist statements about foreigners.
The president has said that France has "too many foreigners" and that it was no longer possible to find shelter, work and education for them all. He threatened last week to pull France out of the Schengen zone of passport-free travel unless he gets his way on stricter controls on migrants.
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