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Germany

Merkel’s Bundestag partners find support for German minimum wage

Angela Merkel's coalition partner has laid out its agenda for the general election, in which it risks being ousted from parliament. The congress entered into controversial territory by advocating for a minimum wage.

In his 40-minute speech to delegates, Free Democratic Party (FDP) chief Philipp Rösler campaigned for higher minimum wage in certain sectors and regions and said business models with hourly wages of 3 euros were unfair. With 57.4 percent of the vote, his party agreed.

"This is not a social market economy," Rösler had said, making the case for a minimum wage. "Performance must be rewarded."

In its last congress before September's elections, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) came out fighting, promising to renew the "black-yellow" coalition: the partnership between the FDP and Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Representatives of both sides have said that the parties want to maintain that alliance beyond the September vote, in which Merkel will seek a third term.

In January, the opposition-controlled upper house, the Bundesrat, agreed to a nationwide minimum of 8.50 euros ($11) an hour. The SPD has made wage law a major part of its election campaign.

The FDP has seen support, once 15 percent, drop below the 5 percent cutoff for re-entry in parliament.

Rösler's popularity has waned in Germany over his brief tenure as FDP chair. He managed to retain the FDP leadership via a power-showering agreement with the party's parliamentary chairman, Rainer Brüderle.

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)