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Angela Merkel hints at same-sex marriage vote in Germany

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Campaigners for equal marriage in Germany

Germany is set to legalise same-sex marriage as early as this week, it emerged Tuesday, after an election-year shift on the issue by Chancellor Angela Merkel sparked a rapid push for a parliamentary vote.

Volker Beck, from the liberal Green party, has demanded Chancellor Angela Merkel allow politicians to vote on marriage equality as soon as possible.

"I would like to steer the discussion more towards the situation that it will be a question of conscience instead of me forcing something through by means of a majority vote", Merkel said. Her party will need to form a coalition government in September, and her potential partners-the Greens, the Social Democrats, and the Free Democrats-have all said that the CDU needs to get on board with gay marriage or they won't enter a partnership.

Her main challenger, SPD leader Martin Schulz, has attacked Merkel for her opposition to gay marriage.

In English, this translates to, "We will push through marriage equality. This week", he wrote.

Polls put Merkel's conservatives 10-15 points ahead of the SPD, but short of a parliamentary majority.

Armin Laschet led the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to a surprise victory in the western state in May, promising better policing and measures to boost economic growth in a state that has been hit by a decline in traditional heavy industries.

Though she seems to have changed her mind on the decision, Merkel stands firm in her views.

"Merkel and [Wolfgang] Schauble [finance minister] were very firm when it came to policies like austerity in Europe, but you hear little to nothing from them about the rule of law and democracy in the EU", he said, taking aim at Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland.

Civil partnership has been allowed since 2001, but Merkel's Christian Democratic Union has resisted calls to open up marriage to same sex couples. She also said: "I laugh at least once a day, otherwise I can not do this job", adding that she would "never allow people to take away my holiday from me".

The general secretary of Merkel's Bavarian allies CSU, Andreas Scheuer, also told Passauer Neue Presse that the "personal attacks against the chancellor... show the huge helplessness of the SPD".

He also laid down gay marriage as a condition for any future coalition involving the SPD. "If we mobilise all our forces in the next few weeks, we can succeed in making the SPD the biggest party", he said to loud cheers.

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