SPD continues to press for Schroeder as chancellor

30th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

30 September 2005, BERLIN - Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) will not budge from its demand that Gerhard Schroeder remain chancellor in a 'grand coalition' with the country's conservatives led by Angela Merkel, a leading SPD member said in an interview published Friday.

30 September 2005

BERLIN - Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) will not budge from its demand that Gerhard Schroeder remain chancellor in a 'grand coalition' with the country's conservatives led by Angela Merkel, a leading SPD member said in an interview published Friday.

"The Union won't have any other choice, since it doesn't have a parliamentary majority for its candidate," Ludwig Stiegler, deputy chairman of the SPD's parliamentary group, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper in a reference to Merkel's alliance.

"They need us to elect Angela Merkel, but they won't get us. Whoever thinks we'd abandon the chancellor in this situation must think we're not only unprincipled, but also stupid. And we're not stupid."

Schroeder's SPD won 222 seats in Germany's September 18 election, compared to 225 seats for the 'Union' - the alliance between Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), its Bavarian sister party.

Both leaders have insisted on heading the next German government, likely to be a coalition of their parties since they have been unable to form coalitions with minor parties that would bring a parliamentary majority.

The two sides held a second round of 'exploratory talks' on Wednesday. Merkel has said that formal coalition talks could only begin once Schroeder gives up his claim to the chancellery.

Schroeder, meanwhile, has said that personnel issues could only be decided in the course of formal coalition talks.

Analysts say the SPD has realized the futility of Schroeder's bid to remain in office but is trying to 'sell his scalp' at the highest possible price. Schroeder himself has begun to tone down his demands.

In an interview with the Saechsische Zeitung newspaper published Friday, Schroeder said, "You can't say you're going to start negotiations only after we give them something beforehand." He declined to say whether the chancellor issue could torpedo talks.

Merkel, speaking to the same newspaper, said, "There are two rules: The first is that the strongest party in a coalition has the right to provide the chancellor. And the second is that every political party makes its own personnel decisions."

She has rejected suggestions that both she and Schroeder give up claims to the chancellery.

The election results will not be final until a by-election Sunday in Dresden. It will not, however, change the federal parliament's balance of power.

Another round of exploratory talks between the SPD and CDU/CSU is scheduled for October 5.

DPA

Subject: German news

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