Merkel’s Party Says Putin Would Like to See Her Fall in 2017

(Bloomberg) -- German voters would hand a victory to Russian President Vladimir Putin if they ousted Chancellor Angela Merkel in next year’s election, a leader of her party said.

A coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and the anti-capitalist Left party governing Europe’s biggest economy would be more to Putin’s liking, Michael Grosse-Broemer, parliamentary whip of Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc, said Tuesday. That’s in line with the chancellor’s campaign message that her party faces an unprecedented two-prong challenge from the political left and right in the election expected to be held in September.

“A defeat of Angela Merkel would be quite a success for Putin” and German policy makers need to be on guard against any attempt to “manipulate elections,” Grosse-Broemer told reporters in Berlin.

Fresh from declaring she’ll seek a fourth term, Merkel last week cited the threat of being denied power by a three-way coalition including the Social Democrats as well as the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany, which is draining votes from established parties. The 2017 election “will be the most difficult of all time, certainly since German reunification” in 1990, Merkel told a convention of her Christian Democratic Union on Dec. 6.