Simonis fails to get majority in Kiel parliament

17th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 March 2005, KIEL - Germany's northernmost state of Schleswig- Holstein was left in a political stalemate after three rounds of secret balloting in parliament failed to elect Social Democratic Party Premier Heide Simonis to another term in office.

17 March 2005

KIEL - Germany's northernmost state of Schleswig- Holstein was left in a political stalemate after three rounds of secret balloting in parliament failed to elect Social Democratic Party Premier Heide Simonis to another term in office.

In a dramatic turn of events, one deputy in Simonis' coalition camp of the SPD and Greens apparently broke ranks to abstain in the voting, leaving Simonis with 34 votes, the same as her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) opponent, Peter Harry Carstensen.

After the third round produced the same result as the second - 34 votes for each candidate and one vote withheld - the parliament was adjourned to let the factions caucus.

The voting was the latest twist in several weeks of controversy in Germany's otherwise serene state since the 20 February elections, in which the ruling SPD-Greens gained only 33 mandates, to the 34 for the opposition CDU and liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

But the tiny Danish minority party SSW, with two deputies, had agreed in lengthy coalition negotiations to tolerate the SPD-Greens minority government and provide their two votes for a total of 35, the barest majority in the 69-seat state legislature.

The deal appeared done going into the constitutive parliamentary session on Thursday morning. But in a first round of voting, both Simonis and Carstensen each suffered the embarrassment of a deputy breaking ranks and abstaining, with Simonis getting 34 votes and Carstensen 33.

Since Simonis' tally fell short of the necessary 35-vote majority, a second round was called. In that vote, Simonis and Carstensen each received 34 votes, with one abstention. The third round produced the same result.

Simonis, in power since 1993 as the only woman premier of a German state, was visibly shocked in the live television coverage of the voting returns, huddling with other deputies and with her envisaged Greens coalition party partner, Anna Luetkes, and with the Danish minority party leader, Anke Spoorendonk.

DPA

Subject: German news

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