Liberal FDP aims for coalition with Merkel's CDU

12th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 September 2005, BERLIN - Germany's liberal FDP threw its full weight behind a coalition with the conservative Christian parties and the candidacy of Angela Merkel for chancellor, during a pre-election party rally in Berlin Sunday.

12 September 2005

BERLIN - Germany's liberal FDP threw its full weight behind a coalition with the conservative Christian parties and the candidacy of Angela Merkel for chancellor, during a pre-election party rally in Berlin Sunday.

The party, which backs free-market economic policies, said just one week before Germany goes to the polls that it rejected any other possible coalition.

FDP General Secretary Dirk Niebel said there was no chance of a grand coalition succeeding between Merkel's Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister-party on the one hand, and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats.

FDP leader Guido Westerwelle backed thoroughgoing tax reform in his address to the party as key to cutting unemployment, which has topped 5 per cent and is a central election issue.

He called for radical simplification of a tax system recognized on all sides as overly complex and for a significant reduction in tax rates.

Mass unemployment and bankruptcies were threatening Germany's social fabric, the FDP leader said.

Wolfgang Gerhardt, a likely FDP candidate for the post of foreign minister, accused Schroeder's government of bringing the country's foreign policy to a dead halt.

"We need to get out of the sleeping car and climb into the locomotive again," he said, charging that current foreign policy under Greens Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had caused strains in relations with Washington.

German foreign policy was also ignoring human and civil rights internationally, Gerhardt said.

Turning to relations within the European Union, Gerhardt said that new life had to breathed into the French-German alliance and that the attempt to pass a European constitution had to be relaunched.

He called for closer links between the E.U. and its North African neighbours. "We can no longer think exclusively in terms of full membership (of the E.U.), we must develop treaties tailored to specific needs," he said.

Gerhardt said this could "possibly apply in the case of Turkey". Merkel has rejected full Turkish membership of the E.U., calling instead for a "privileged partnership" agreement, instead of the full membership demanded by Ankara.

DPA

Subject: German news

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