Afghan War Becomes Central Issue in German Elections

Foreign Minister Hopes Call for Eventual Withdrawal Plan Will Improve Floundering Poll Results

With just two weeks left before Germany’s 17th federal election, the growing popular opposition to the war in Afghanistan has provided an opening, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is hoping to parlay that opposition into improved election chances for his Social Democratic Party (SPD).

German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Long a supporter of the endless conflict in Afghanistan, Steinmeier is now making a not-exactly-impassioned call to have some sort of withdrawal strategy in place for German troops by 2013. Though this will probably not exactly wow a war-weary population, it does differentiate the SPD from its primary coalition partner, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

The SPD’s chances in the election had been floundering in recent months, as the party which netted 34% of the votes in the last vote had been polling as a meager 23% in most polls as Steinmeier’s party campaigned primarily on a platform of new taxes to punish the financial industry for the recession.

The German public’s opposition to the war had largely been muted by official claims that it wasn’t technically a war at all. This position, however, has become increasingly untenable in the wake of the massive civilian toll in the Kunduz air strike earlier this month.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of