Merkel to 'actively support' Sarkozy re-election

Merkel to 'actively support' Sarkozy re-election

BERLIN - Reuters
Merkel to actively support Sarkozy re-election

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. AP photo

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will "actively support" French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a fellow conservative, in his spring campaign to win re-election, her Christian Democrat (CDU) party in Berlin said.

It is unusual for German leaders to intervene in elections abroad even though the CDU and Sarkozy's UMP have similar policies. Merkel and Sarkozy have worked closely in trying to solve the euro zone sovereign debt crisis and have even earned the nickname 'Merkozy' for their close working relationship.

A spokesman for the CDU said Merkel, in her capacity as the leader of Germany's conservatives, was planning to make several joint campaign appearances with Sarkozy in the spring, ahead of the two-round French election on April 22 and May 6.

The dates of their joint appearances were not yet available. The exact nature of Merkel's involvement is also unclear.

While European leaders sometimes make brief appearances at rallies of centre-right or centre-left allies abroad, it is unusual for them to become actively involved.

"The CDU chairwoman, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will actively support Nicolas Sarkozy with joint appearances in the election campaign in the spring," the CDU said in a statement.

Merkel's right-hand man in the CDU, general secretary Hermann Groehe, has already been involved in campaigning in France. In a speech on Saturday in Paris, Groehe attacked Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, saying his policies would weaken Europe. Hollande tops opinion polls in France.

In European parliamentary elections in 2009, Sarkozy took part in one rally in Berlin for the CDU youth wing.