German socialist party support surges… EU threatens fines for failing to take in refugees

German socialist party SPD’s popularity hits all-time high

Survey of 2,500 voters finds support for Chancellor’s Christian Democrats falling away seven months before federal elections

Germany’sSocial Democrats (SPD) narrowed the gap to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives to 2 percentage points from 3 in the last week, according to a poll for Stern magazine by the Forsa Institute.

Seven months before federal elections, Wednesday’s survey of 2,500 voters found support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), fell 1 point to 33 percent. The SPD was steady at 31 percent.

Some other leading opinion polls have showed the SPD ahead of or even with the CDU/CSU, including one on Sunday from the Emnid institute that put them neck-and-neck on 32 percent.

?Merkel is seeking a fourth term in the September 24 election. She currently leads a coalition government made up of her CDU/CSU and the centre-left SPD. Both are hoping to form a new government with smaller allies.

Brussels (AFP) – The EU on Thursday stepped up warnings that countries could be punished if they fail to share the burden of mainly Syrian refugees stranded in Greece and Italy.

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said member states had until September to take in 160,000 Syrian and other refugees from the two countries, which have been on the frontline of the migration crisis.

So far only 13,500 have been relocated in a process bogged down by general inertia and resistance from Eastern European states which oppose Muslim immigration.

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“If we don’t have tangible efforts by September… the commission will not hesitate to make use of its power,” Avramopoulos, who is Greece’s EU commissioner, told a news conference.

The EU has been trying to convince members states “to do their duty,” he said.

“But if it is not the case in the future, infringements might be an option,” he said.

France’s Marine Le Pen loses EU immunity over IS atrocity tweets

Brussels (AFP) – Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was stripped of her European Parliament immunity Thursday after she tweeted images of Islamic State atrocities, paving the way for her prosecution by French authorities.

Prosecutors launched a probe in December, 2015 over the graphic pictures that the French National Front (FN) leader posted on social media, which included the decapitated body of US journalist James Foley.

“The result is clear, a big majority is in favour of the lifting of immunity,” acting parliament speaker Dimitrios Papadimoulis said, after lawmakers in Brussels voted by a show of hands.

The ruling is effective immediately for Le Pen, a National Front MEP, European Parliament officials told AFP.



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