German opposition has majority over Schroeder

9th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2005, BERLIN - The highest unemployment rate since 1933 and a slowing economy are battering German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats with a poll Wednesday showing the opposition conservatives would currently win a clear majority. The weekly Stern/RTL TV poll gave Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) just 31 percent and their Greens coalition ally 8 percent. For the first time this year the poll gave the opposition conservatives 50 percent. The Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) wo

10 March 2005

BERLIN - The highest unemployment rate since 1933 and a slowing economy are battering German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats with a poll Wednesday showing the opposition conservatives would currently win a clear majority.

The weekly Stern/RTL TV poll gave Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD) just 31 percent and their Greens coalition ally 8 percent.

For the first time this year the poll gave the opposition conservatives 50 percent. The Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) would currently win 43 percent and the Free Democrats (FDP) are at 7 percent.

Polls had shown Schroeder's SPD to be on a political rebound since early 2004, but the trend now appears to have been reversed.

This is grim news for Chancellor Schroeder as his SPD battles to win re-election in the key state of North Rhine-Westphalia on 22 May.

North Rhine-Westphalia - Germany's most populous state - has for decades been ruled by the SPD and defeat of the party would be a political earthquake.

The state's current coalition between the SPD and Greens is under intense strain with SPD demands for job creation measures colliding with support by the Greens for a tough new anti-discrimination law and environmental protection.

German unemployment has soared to 12.6 percent with 5.2 million jobless - the highest level since Adolf Hitler took power in 1933. In some parts of economically hard-hit eastern Germany the rate is close to 30 percent.

The German economy, which grew by 1.6 percent last year, is slowing with analysts projecting between 0.8 and 1 per cent growth in 2005.

Economists say sustained growth of at least 2 percent is needed in order to make a dent into unemployment.

Germany's next general election is in autumn 2006 and Schroeder has been banking on his social welfare and tax reforms boosting growth to help him win a third term.

DPA

Subject: German news

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