SPD chief vows to drive reforms

9th February 2004, Comments 0 comments

9 February 2004 , BERLIN - The designated new leader of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats vowed Monday that German reforms will not be watered down despite protests of party leftists. "The policies we are following are the right ones - and they will be continued," said Franz Muentefering who has been nominated to succeed Schroeder as Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader. Schroeder announced his surprise resignation as SPD chief last Friday amid slumping opinion polls and demands by the party'

9 February 2004

BERLIN - The designated new leader of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats vowed Monday that German reforms will not be watered down despite protests of party leftists.

"The policies we are following are the right ones - and they will be continued," said Franz Muentefering who has been nominated to succeed Schroeder as Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader.

Schroeder announced his surprise resignation as SPD chief last Friday amid slumping opinion polls and demands by the party's vocal left-wing for abandoning further reform of the social welfare state.

Many analysts see Schroeder as weakened by the move and have predicted the government will ditch plans to revamp the tax, pension and education systems.

"It's the wrong decision. Schroeder must totally stay or totally go," said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, adding that if the chancellor was really convinced of his reforms he would have fought on.

The newspaper, which generally supports the government, said Muentefering's popularity in the SPD would not translate into broader support for unpopular reform policies.

SPD leftists demand cancellation of a new public health insurance law under which patients are charged EUR 10 euros for their first visit to the doctor in each quarter of the year.

Calls are also growing for raising the inheritance tax.

"What's now coming will impact the rich," said Nils Annen, who heads the SPD youth movement.

A Schroeder spokesman, Thomas Steg, told reporters that Schroeder planned a major speech on future government plans in March but said the exact date had not yet been set.

Muentefering is expected to be elected as SPD chairman at a party congress in Berlin on 21 March.

DPA
Subject: German news

 

0 Comments To This Article