Merkel Trades Compromise For Hard Line

Chancellor backs right-wing colleague in strategy shift
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2008 4:04 PM CST
German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her speech during the CDU party congress in Hanover, Germany, Monday, Dec. 3, 2007. After two years of presidential-style compromise, Merkel is getting involved...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Ahead of a regional election later this month, Angela Merkel has left behind the conciliatory tone of her first 2 years and come out swinging. The German chancellor gave her strongest backing to the minister-president of Hesse, who is running for reelection on a harsh anti-immigrant platform. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Merkel supported her colleague's proposal to introduce boot camps for "criminal young foreigners."

The flare-up comes after two immigrant youths beat a man on the Munich subway, and security video footage aired across the country. Merkel's coalition partners are accusing her of populism, and critics openly wonder why she hasn't been as harsh toward young right-wing extremists. But the chancellor can afford it: She enjoys a 37-point lead over her main rival.