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One third of Germans feel deceived by Merkel

May 20, 2015

One in three Germans have said their trust in the government is shaken. Regardless of the media outrage over the allegations that German intelligence helped the NSA, Angela Merkel wasn't rushing to offer an explanation.

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One third of Germans feel deceived by Chancellor Angela Merkel over allegations that Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND) helped the NSA spy on European politicians and companies, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

The survey by research firm Forsa showed that despite the large outcry in the media against Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) for their alleged complicity, 48 percent of Germans responded that they were not very interested in the scandal.

The source of the perceived deception goes back to leaks revealed by Edward Snowden in June 2013, which showed evidence of NSA spying in Germany. Chancellor Merkel's reaction suggested it was the first she was hearing of such activities on the part of the NSA, even going so far as to seek a public apology from President Barack Obama, which she never received. The BND reports directly to the chancellor's office, and has since said that its political superiors were regularly briefed.

This week, reports in the media further suggested that Merkel's aides had misled to the public ahead of the 2013 general election, talking up the prospect of a no-spy deal with the United States. Such a deal has yet to materialize, and seems unlikely to, according to sources on the US side.

Yet the affair has hardly changed opinion regarding the ruling parties, with the CDU's coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), gaining a single percentage point, bringing it up to 22 percent support, while the Christian Democrat alliance has sunk one point to 40 percent.

Merkel not in any hurry to shed light on scandal

The allegations against the BND have caused a rift within the so-called 'grand coalition,' with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) laying the blame on the chancellor's doorstep, only to be chastised by the Bavarian conservatives for doing so.

Merkel's government did not seem to be in any hurry to release more information about the ties between the BND and the NSA. Merkel, renowned for her ability to dodge uncomfortable questions, has simply said she's confident that all involved "acted to the best of their knowledge and the best of their conscience." On Wednesday, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin that the "consultation phase" of the investigation was ongoing while they continued to liaise with their American counterparts.

The lack of expediency was frustrating to others in parliament, with SPD chief whip Christine Lambrecht saying "the time is now" for the federal government to ask that the US hand over its "spy list" of terms and names it searched for in Europe. The opposition Left and Green parties have already made known their demands for a copy of this list to be made public as soon as possible.

es/msh (dpa, Reuters)