Hessen parliament clears way for January elections

20th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The state has been ruled by a caretaker government headed by conservative Prime Minister Roland Koch since inconclusive election returns in January.

Wiesbaden, Germany -- The regional parliament in the German state of Hesse dissolved itself on Wednesday, clearing the way for early general elections on Jan. 18.

All five parties represented in the 110-member legislature voted in favor of the move.

The state has been ruled by a caretaker government headed by conservative Prime Minister Roland Koch since inconclusive election returns in January.

Opposition Social Democrat (SPD) leader Andrea Ypsilanti tried twice to unseat Koch by forming an alliance with the environmentalist Greens, backed by the tacit support of The Left party.

But on both occasions the move was torpedoed by dissidents within her own party who objected to cooperating with The Left, a collection of former East German communists and disaffected Social Democrats.

After her most recent setback earlier this month, Ypsilanti named SPD backbencher Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel as the party's frontrunner to take on Koch on Jan. 18.

Koch, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), said an early election was needed because none of the parties in parliament are in a position to form a coalition.

In one of its final acts before its dissolution, the legislature in Wiesbaden laid the groundwork for a 500-million-euro (630 million dollars) credit guarantee to ailing carmaker Opel.

Opel, which has been hit by the massive losses suffered by its US parent General Motors, has a factory employing 18,300 workers in the Hessen city of Ruesselsheim.

Ypsilanti's decision to seek support from The Left for a minority government led by her broke an election promise she made before this year's elections, leading to widespread criticism.

Opinion polls suggest the SPD would lose fresh elections in Hesse. At national level, the SPD rules in an uneasy coalition with Angela Merkel's CDU. National elections are scheduled for September.

DPA/Expatica

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