Left Party members consider backing Schroeder
22 September 2005, BERLIN - Members of the Left Party in the new German Bundestag are backing Gerhard Schroeder's bid to remain chancellor, despite his Social Democrats (SPD) coming second in weekend elections, press reports said Thursday.
22 September 2005
BERLIN - Members of the Left Party in the new German Bundestag are backing Gerhard Schroeder's bid to remain chancellor, despite his Social Democrats (SPD) coming second in weekend elections, press reports said Thursday.
The SPD and its Greens coalition partners lack the votes to keep Schroeder in office, but the votes of the Left would give them an absolute majority in the new Bundestag when it meets to choose the chancellor on October 18.
The Left, which came out of Sunday's elections as the fourth- largest party, is rejected as a coalition partner by all the other parties, but the vote for the chancellor is by secret ballot, allowing Bundestag members to ignore the official line of their respective parties.
The joint leaders of the Left, former communist Gregor Gysi and renegade former SPD member Oskar Lafontaine, have ruled out backing Schroeder for chancellor, even though Lafontaine has said he could endorse many of the policies of the SPD and the Greens.
The Berlin Tagesspiegel newspaper said other senior members of the Left had indicated they could be interested in backing an SPD-Greens coalition, provided that new leaders emerged and that they moved left on key issues, such as reforms to labour and tax law.
Christian Democrat candidate Angela Merkel is pressing her claim to be chancellor on the basis that her CDU/CSU took three more seats than the SPD, but she lacks an outright majority.
Spiegel Online reported that Left Party member Huseyin-Kenan Aydin had made clear he would prefer Schroeder over Merkel and would vote accordingly, even if this meant defying the Left's leaders.
Trade unionist Aydin said he could "well imagine" a situation in the Bundestag in which the Left would tolerate a minority government of the SPD and the Greens.
"I even wish that would come about," he told Spiegel Online. The magazine named three other Left members who said they would back Schroeder.
Bodo Ramelow, a member of the Left's executive, criticised Aydin. "That won't happen," Ramelow told the Thueringer Allgemeine newspaper.
The four Left members lacked political experience and their comments had been misinterpreted, he said.
In the new Bundestag, Merkel's CDU/CSU has 225 seats against 222 for Schroeder's SDP.
The third-largest force is the FDP with 61, followed by the Left with 54 and the Greens with 51 seats.
The result denies a majority to the CDU/CSU and its favoured partner, the liberal FDP, and to the ruling SPD-Greens coalition.
Subject: German news