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Learning English - Words in the News
07 August, 2006 - Published 15:41 GMT
Merkel's popularity ratings fall
Chancellor Merkel at the World Cup
After the World Cup, Angela Merkel is less popular

Chancellor Angela Merkel's reform agenda has come unstuck, with a new opinion poll revealing that only 22% of Germans are satisfied that her coalition government has done a good job. This report from our Berlin Correspondent, Tristana Moore.

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The World Cup is long over, and any hopes politicians may have had that the euphoria would lead to renewed faith in the government have been dashed. According to a new opinion poll, only one in five Germans think Chancellor Merkel's grand coalition has done a good job.

The government has been grappling with its reform agenda, including a controversial plan to change Germany’s healthcare system. But disagreements over how to finance the system have revealed tensions in the government, and the plans have been criticised by unions and consumer groups. The latest poll, carried out by the Infratest Dimap Institute, showed a majority of Germans are against the proposed health reforms. Business leaders and economists have also attacked the government’s plans to raise value added tax next year, claiming the tax increases will drag down growth.

Since last November’s election, Chancellor Merkel has presided over an awkward alliance between the Conservatives and Social Democrats, who in the past were traditional political rivals. While Chancellor Merkel has transformed the country’s foreign policy, by mending relations with President Bush and playing a key role in the European Union, back home, critics have attacked her domestic policy agenda. Chancellor Merkel's own popularity ratings have taken a battering. The survey shows Angela Merkel has lost her position as Germany’s most popular politician, and her approval rating is down to 56% - the worst record since she was elected last autumn.

Tristana Moore, BBC, Berlin

Listen to the words

reform agenda
a plan to make changes in various areas, including economic, social or political spheres

has come unstuck
has broken down, experienced difficulties or failed to work

great happiness or excitement

have been dashed
have been destroyed

trying to deal with something difficult

controversial plan
a proposal to do something which causes arguments between its supporters and opponents

short for opinion poll, a survey in which a group of people are asked questions to establish what they think about something

value added tax
a tax charged on the sale of goods or service, often known by its initials, VAT

mending relations
improving the way people or countries get on with each other

taken a battering
fallen sharply

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