Merkel rejects confidence vote calls over Covid 'mistake'– 'I asked people to forgive me!'

The Chancellor’s decision to scrap plans for an extended Easter holiday in a bid to break a third wave of COVID-19 despite having agreed on the idea two days earlier during talks with governors of Germany’s 16 states have prompted suggestions that her grasp on power is slipping, especially as she is stepping down later this year. However, pressed by reporters about calls for her to allow a vote of confidence, Mrs Merkel was unequivocal.

She said: “No, I will not do that.”I asked people today to forgive me for a mistake.

“This was the right thing to do, I believe. I also have the support of the whole federal government and parliament.”

Support for CDU and their centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners is tumbling six months before that country’s federal election in which both parties are predicted to suffer record-low results.

Germans, who in four successive elections had put their faith in Mrs Merkel are growing frustrated with her management of the pandemic.

The measure originally announced by Mrs Merkel would have meant all stores, including essential ones, closing for an extra day on April 1.

The plan was welcomed by doctors and hospitals who fear rising infection numbers would stretch intensive care units that have been saving lives for more than a year.

READ MORE: German MEP warns EU risk ‘shooting themselves in the foot’

She admitted: “This mistake is mine alone. I ask all citizens for forgiveness.

“I am convinced that we will beat the virus together.

“The path is difficult and rocky, and it is marked by successes but also by mistakes and setbacks. But the virus will slowly but surely become less scary.”

Volker Bouffier, governor of the southern state of Hesse, told mass-selling Bild newspaper that the U-turn made the governing conservatives look like “fools”.

Germany, with a population of 83 million, reported 15,813 infections on Wednesday, an increase of some 2,000 from seven days ago, while the death toll rose by 248 to 75,212.

Deaths have fallen from earlier in the year when vaccinations had not begun, but admissions to intensive care units are creeping up and the seven-day incidence of cases per 100,000 – which the government has used as a metric to decide on lockdown steps – stands at 108 compared with 86 a week ago.

Nevertheless, business leaders were quick to praise Mrs Merkel for her change of heart.

Employers’ president Rainer Dulger said: “The chancellor’s courageous decision demonstrates leadership.

“There is no blueprint for managing this crisis.”

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