Hamburg government collapses

9th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

9 December 2003 , HAMBURG - The centre-right coalition government of Hamburg, one of Germany's 16 states, collapsed Tuesday, and senior officials said they would have no choice but to call a snap election. A power struggle in the second-largest coalition party, the Schill party, caused the split late Monday. The caucus leader of the largest coalition party, Michael Freytag of the Christian Democratic Union, told reporters Tuesday there would be a news conference to announce the polls. The feuding Schill Pa

9 December 2003

HAMBURG - The centre-right coalition government of Hamburg, one of Germany's 16 states, collapsed Tuesday, and senior officials said they would have no choice but to call a snap election.

A power struggle in the second-largest coalition party, the Schill party, caused the split late Monday.

The caucus leader of the largest coalition party, Michael Freytag of the Christian Democratic Union, told reporters Tuesday there would be a news conference to announce the polls.

The feuding Schill Party is unique to Hamburg. Its founder, former judge Ronald Schill, shot to world attention two years ago when he came out of nowhere to win 19.4 percent of the vote with a law-and- order and pro-motorist platform.

The party's national chairman, Mario Mettbach, declared Saturday that Schill was no longer Hamburg state chairman. Schill loyalists pronounced a ban Monday evening on Mettbach, who is construction minister in Hamburg, confirming the split.

Schill holds no public office, having been sacked as interior minister in August for alleging that Mayor Ole von Beust had a homosexual relationship with another politician. Beust denied the link, though his father confirmed to the media that he is gay.

Surveys indicate support for the centre-right parties remains firm, with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, who were tipped out of power in the city-state two years ago, seen as unlikely to stage a comeback.

Schroeder is currently handicapped by the fact that the CDU and its allies control a majority of state governments and the federal upper house, the Bundestag, blocking much of his reform legislation.

The advent of the Schill Party in 2001 was flanked by successes by right-wing populists in Europe and elsewhere. Eloquent new leaders won working class votes by emphasizing a collapse of law and order in their message, and linking the collapse to rising immigration.

Schill entered into a coalition with the Christian Democrats to rule the city-state of Hamburg, becoming interior minister. He cleared drug addicts from the main rail station, made car parking easier and changed police uniforms.

Beust's other coalition partner is the tiny Free Democrat Party (FDP). He has voiced unwillingness to rule in tandem with the Social Democrats or the Greens, the other two parties in the state legislature.

DPA
Subject: German news

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