Schroeder sticks to 1 July no-confidence vote

9th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 June 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed on Thursday he was sticking to plans for a 1 July no-confidence vote to pave the way to early elections while underlining trust in Germany's president who had come under attack from members of his Social Democrats.

9 June 2005

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed on Thursday he was sticking to plans for a 1 July no-confidence vote to pave the way to early elections while underlining trust in Germany's president who had come under attack from members of his Social Democrats.

Schroeder, in a statement after talks with President Horst Koehler, said he would not link the 1 July parliamentary no-confidence vote to any specific issue or legislation.

The vote - technically called a 'constructive vote of no confidence' - is aimed at bringing down his own centre-left government of the Social Democrats (SPD) with the Greens to allow early elections which are expected to be held on 18 September.

President Koehler must give final approval for new elections to be held and Schroeder made it clear that he fully backs Germany's head of state.

"I have full trust that the President is above politics," said Schroeder, adding: "This also holds for his keeping the content of our talks confidential."

President Koehler has been accused by top SPD members in past days of playing party politics and favouring the conservative opposition to which he belongs.

SPD deputy parliamentary chief Michael Mueller accused the president of leaking details of earlier secret talks with Schroeder while influential SPD boss Johannes Kahrs slammed Koehler as having "failed to grow into his office and confusing the presidency with party politics."

Germany's president is mainly ceremonial but in political crises can play a major role. The president is supposed to be above politics and traditionally suspends party membership while in office.

Schroeder said he expected all other SPD leaders to "immediately stop" making such comments aimed at President Koehler which he warned could damage Germany's constitutional system.

Opinion polls show Schroeder is badly trailing the opposition Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) which has nominated Angela Merkel as its chancellor candidate.

The CDU/CSU has surged in popularity by focusing on Germany's near-record 11.6 percent unemployment with 4.8 million people jobless in Europe's biggest economy. A ZDF TV poll showed just 12 percent of voters trust Schroeder to tackle unemployment.

Merkel's CDU/CSU and their Free Democratic (FDP) ally would win 55 percent if elections were held now, according to the weekly Stern magazine/RTL poll.

Schroeder's SPD is scraping along at 28 percent, with his Greens coalition partner at 8 percent, the poll said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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