Schleswig-Holstein premierquits after Kiel vote debacle

18th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 March 2005, KIEL/BERLIN - The only woman ever to head a German state, Heide Simonis, announced Friday she is stepping aside as a consequence of her failure to be confirmed in office after four deadlock votes in the Schleswig-Holstein parliament.

18 March 2005

KIEL/BERLIN - The only woman ever to head a German state, Heide Simonis, announced Friday she is stepping aside as a consequence of her failure to be confirmed in office after four deadlock votes in the Schleswig-Holstein parliament.

Simonis, a Social Democrat (SPD), informed her party faction on Friday that she was withdrawing her name as a candidate for the premiership.

The move appeared to increase the likelihood of a grand coalition between the SPD and the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the state, a prospect which party leaders at the national level in Berlin earlier said was likely.

Simonis, 61, has been in office since 1993 as the only woman ever in Germany to hold the premiership of a federal state.

Her move came after the state parliament held four secret votes ending in a deadlock between her and her CDU opponent, Peter Harry Carstensen.

Thursday's parliamentary drama was the latest twist in several weeks of controversy in Germany's otherwise serene northernmost state since the 20 February elections.

Then, the ruling SPD-Greens gained only 33 mandates, to the 34 for the opposition CDU and FDP. This left the Danish minority party SSW, with two deputies, holding the balance of power.

Simonis had been expecting to head a minority government with the decisive support of those two SSW votes, which would have given her SPD-Greens team 35 votes in the 69-seat parliament.

But in Thursday's four rounds of voting by secret ballot in parliament, Simonis and Carstensen each were tied at 34 votes. One deputy in Simonis' camp abstained in all four ballots, leaving the legislature deadlocked.

DPA

Subject: German news

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