Koehler poised to announce elections decision

21st July 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 July 2005, BERLIN - German President Horst Koehler was poised to announce Thursday evening whether he will accept Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's call for an early general election. Koehler's office said the president would announce his decision in a televised address to the nation during prime-time viewing hours, ahead of Friday's decision deadline. Schroeder rocked Germany's political establishment by announcing in late May that he wanted to bring forward by a year the country's national election, orig

21 July 2005

BERLIN - German President Horst Koehler was poised to announce Thursday evening whether he will accept Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's call for an early general election.

Koehler's office said the president would announce his decision in a televised address to the nation during prime-time viewing hours, ahead of Friday's decision deadline.

Schroeder rocked Germany's political establishment by announcing in late May that he wanted to bring forward by a year the country's national election, originally slated for September 2006.

The move followed a humiliating defeat for his Social Democrats (SDP) in a key state poll in what was once the party's political heartland.

Most in Germany believe that the president, who occupies a mainly ceremonial position and who is unlikely to go against the wishes of the major parties, will grant the early election.

However should he do so, dissidents in the parliament have vowed to challenge his decision all the way to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Greens MP Werner Schultze accuses Schroeder of having bent the law to bring about a new election when in fact the legal avenue would be for him to resign.

Schroeder upped the ante in recent days by saying that, should Koehler decide against an early election, the chancellor would simply remain in power and fill out his term for another year.

Koehler was later quoted as telling aides that he now had no choice but to call for an early election "to avert political chaos" in Germany.

Germany's major political parties, which support the call for an early poll, have been locked in a phoney election campaign since May 22 when Schroeder said he planned to bring the ballot forward.

A recent poll showed the opposition Christian Democratic-led political bloc, led by chancellor-candidate Angela Merkel, ahead of Schroeder's ruling Social Democrats (SPD), but losing ground as September approaches.

The poll, drawn up by market researchers Forsa for the weekly Stern magazine, showed support for the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) dropping two percentage points from last week to 44 per cent.

The opposition alliance however maintains a commanding lead over the SPD, who polled just 27 per cent of support.

Meanwhile, a far-left alliance of dissatisfied Social Democrats and former East German communists called the Left Party is gaining ground.

Support for the new left alliance highlights the deep opposition in parts of the country, especially in the east, to the tough welfare and labour market reforms that have been introduced by the Schroeder government and that would be likely to be continued by Merkel.

Analysts predict that the general election might well result in the formation of a grand coalition headed by Christian Democrats with Schroeder's SPD as junior members.

DPA

Subject: German news

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