Germany's political partiesprepare campaign platforms

4th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 July 2005, BERLIN - Leaders of Germany's major political parties huddled Monday to hammer out campaign platforms for an early general election after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's intentional defeat in Friday's parliamentary vote of confidence.

4 July 2005

BERLIN - Leaders of Germany's major political parties huddled Monday to hammer out campaign platforms for an early general election after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's intentional defeat in Friday's parliamentary vote of confidence.

Schroeder and his Social Democrats met in Berlin to draft platform planks calling for a tax aimed at the rich, a minimum wage to hinder cheap foreign labour and the creation of a national health system.

Christian Democrats headed by front-runner Angela Merkel Monday adopted a platform calling for sweeping income-tax reforms that will give breaks to the middle class.

"I am going to wage an election campaign the likes of which this nation has never seen before," sources at Monday's discussions quoted Schroeder as promising to the 100 or so top party officials.

Merkel, whose centre-right opposition forces are likely to defeat Schroeder's incumbent centre-left coalition, said the time has come for "a realistic and workable tax system that benefits everybody".

On Friday, Schroeder intentionally lost a parliamentary no- confidence vote which he called to achieve early elections.

A final decision on whether to allow the early vote must now be made by July 22 by Federal President Horst Koehler. Germany's highest court will probably have to rule on whether the election can go ahead.

Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD), who face a stiff challenge from a newly founded leftist bloc, stress traditional social welfare expansion in their 37-page programme, a copy of which was obtained by Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Contrasting the SPD, the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) plans to increase VAT to 18 per cent if their candidate, Angela Merkel, wins the German general election expected on September 18.

Merkel's party leaders discussed those and other platform planks Monday.

At the same time, leaders of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's Green party also met to finalise their election campaign.

The Greens were staking out leftist and environmentalist stances in clear demarcation to the new far-left grouping of former communists and disenchanted Social Democrats and Greens who are rallying around one-time Schroeder cabinet member Oscar Lafontaine.

The new far-left alliance is headed by Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi, 57, long the most charismatic figure in the far-leftist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the reconstituted East German Communist Party. Lafontaine heads the new leftist party called the Labour and Social Election Alternative (WASG).

The Greens and Social Democrats are alarmed by surveys that show over 10 per cent of the vote could go to the Gysi-Lafontaine alliance.

Analysts over the weekend said that such a development in the general election, likely to be held in September, might well result in the formation of a grand coalition headed by Christian Democrats with Schroeder's SPD as junior members.

The rise of the new leftist alliance dominated deliberations by SPD leaders Monday as they sought to re-establish themselves as the traditional party of grassroots working people. The SPD has suffered a string of humiliating election defeats in state after state in recent months.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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