Division in SPD leaves stalemate in German state of Hesse

7th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Ypsilanti withdraws her candidacy for the premiership.

Berlin -- The political stalemate in the German state of Hesse was set to continue after the Social Democrat (SPD) leader Andrea Ypsilanti Friday withdrew her candidacy for the premiership.

"I will not stand for election on April 5, as I cannot guarantee a majority. I cannot go down this road," Ypsilanti told a news conference after SPD member of the state legislature Dagmar Metzger had made clear she would not back moves to do a deal with the Left Party.

Ypsilanti added that she saw "no further options" open to the SPD, which secured 42 seats in the 110-seat state legislature in January 27 elections, level with the Christian Democrats (CDU), led by incumbent Premier Roland Koch.

Koch said that following Ypsilanti's "dramatic failure" he would seek talks with two minority parties, the free-market FDP and the Greens, on forming a majority coalition.

Ypsilanti said her decision, announced earlier this week, to break with a pre-election pledge not to do any kind of political deal with the Left had been "very, very difficult" both for her personally and for many in the SPD.

Anticipating Metzger's stand, the Greens Friday postponed coalition talks with the SPD aimed at forming a minority government in the state that would have governed by seeking shifting majorities for its policies.

With the FDP, the CDU's preferred partner, securing 11 seats and the Greens 9, neither of the main blocs could form a majority government. The Left holds the balance with 6 seats.

Koch, who ran a divisive campaign highlighting crimes committed by foreign youths, continues in office in a caretaker capacity. He said he would now seek talks with the Greens, even though the party has to date ruled out a coalition with the CDU.

In Hamburg, the CDU and the Greens were edging towards forming their first-ever alliance at state level, after party members agreed at separate meetings Thursday to open coalition talks.

The results of the February 24 election in the city-state were similarly inconclusive, although the personal differences between the party leaders are less marked.

The rise of the Left, which entered the legislatures for the first time, has ploughed up the German political field, forcing the main parties to seek arrangements with smaller parties they had previously kept at arm's length.

At federal level, CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel heads an unwieldy "grand coalition" with the SPD as junior partner. Federal elections must be held within the next 18 months.

DPA with Expatica

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