SPD leaders attack new German President

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2004 , BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats turned up the heat Monday on conservative German president elect Horst Koehler over demands by the former International Monetary Fund chief for deeper economic reform. Koehler, who headed the IMF from 2000 to 2004, defeated the ruling Social Democratic (SPD) candidate in Sunday's presidential election in the 1,204 member Federal Convention thanks to opposition control of parliament's upper chamber. In his victory speech, Koehler called

24 May 2004

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats turned up the heat Monday on conservative German president elect Horst Koehler over demands by the former International Monetary Fund chief for deeper economic reform.

Koehler, who headed the IMF from 2000 to 2004, defeated the ruling Social Democratic (SPD) candidate in Sunday's presidential election in the 1,204 member Federal Convention thanks to opposition control of parliament's upper chamber.

In his victory speech, Koehler called for swift reform of Germany's sickly economy. German GDP been in stagnation for the past three years and unemployment is almost 11 percent.

"I view fundamental reform of our nation as necessary and overdue," said Koehler, adding: "As an economist I'm concerned over the state of the German economy."

Koehler said Germans needed to get over their "angst" regarding change and become far bolder in pushing the transformation to a knowledge-based economy and society.

Germany's president is mainly ceremonial but has considerable moral influence and can influence the national political agenda.

The SPD premier of Schleswig-Holstein state, Heide Simonis, could barely contain her scorn over Koehler's remarks.

"He's not our economics minister!" declared Simonis in an ARD TV interview, adding that Koehler should have at least waited until his first hundred days in office were over before commenting on key policy issues.

Simonis, who is known for her sharp tongue, also expressed displeasure over what she said was Koehler's focus on economic themes.

Another SPD official, deputy parliamentary leader Michael Mueller, mocked Koehler's speech for not having addressed key questions.

"To be honest it was not nearly complex enough given the real policy choices being faced today," said Mueller.

Koehler, who replaces outgoing SPD President Johannes Rau, is due to take office on 1 July.

 

DPA

Subject: German news

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