Workplace Equality

04.21.131:06 PM ET

Angela Merkel's Party Hurt by Female Hiring Quota Tiff

The chancellor and her CDU party slipped in the polls after an internal battle over a quota requiring German firms to put more women on their boards.

Angela Merkel has long been opposed to the idea of forcing German companies to increase female membership on their boards. But the country’s Iron Chancellor—often called the world’s most powerful woman—found her back against the wall this week when a rogue bloc in her own party came out in favor of the quota system. Led by Merkel’s labor minister, Ursula von der Leyen—who was hired to promote women’s rights—the rebels forced Merkel to agree to the quota, though the changes won't take effect until 2020.

The political challenge from her own flank left Merkel smarting—and it could end up hurting her and her Christian Democratic Union party in September’s elections. Support for Merkel’s conservatives fell 2 percentage points to 39 percent after the quota quarrel, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday. The ruling government party is still pegged to win a parliamentary majority by a small margin.