Deadlock as both Merkel andSchroeder demand power
22 September 2005
BERLIN – Germany remained in political deadlock Thursday after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and conservative leader Angela Merkel stood firm on their respective demands to be the country’s next leader after inconclusive elections.
Following a one-hour meeting of the bitter rivals, Schroeder’s Social Democratic (SPD) chairman, Franz Muentefering, said his goal was “a government with Gerhard Schroeder as chancellor.”
Merkel told reporters her party had won the most votes and thus she had the right to be chancellor.
“We made clear that given the election result the Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) is responsible for setting up the government,” said Merkel.
Merkel’s CDU/CSU won 35.2 per cent in last Sunday’s election compared to 34.3 per cent for Schroeder’s SPD.
Despite the sharply differing views on who should lead Germany, both sides agreed to meet again in Berlin next Wednesday to see if policy issues could be bridged.
The two parties are pondering a grand coalition government to rule Germany but as Schroeder noted, there can be no moves toward any such coalition until the chancellor question is resolved.
Merkel noted: “I cannot imagine that Herr Schroeder has any interest in being vice-chancellor.”
Earlier in the day, Merkel dampened prospects for another coalition option with her CDU/CSU and their Free Democratic (FDP) ally plus the Greens who currently rule with Schroeder.
“We fully agree it will be difficult,” said Merkel after separate talks with the FDP, adding: “The differences in party programmes are enormous.”
There has been speculation Merkel may try to win over the Greens since Sunday’s inconclusive election in which neither the CDU/CSU with the FDP nor Schroeder’s Social Democratic (SPD)-Greens government won a majority.
Senior Greens members have expressed deep scepticism over creating what has been dubbed a ‘Jamaica coalition’ because the official colours of the three parties match the Caribbean nation’s black- yellow-green flag.
Merkel will meet with Greens leaders in Berlin on Friday.
*sidebar1*Earlier, the Chancellor’s SPD denied a report it would seek to keep Schroeder in power by using a legal trick to split the CDU/CSU.
Party chief Muentefering vowed his party would not change a rule dating back to the 1960s under which Merkel’s CDU/CSU is regarded as a single faction in parliament.
The CDU operates in 15 of Germany’s 16 federal states while the CSU functions as its sister party in Bavaria state.
Schroeder bases his demand to stay on as chancellor by arguing the CDU and the CSU are totally separate parties. By splitting the conservative vote the CDU would have just 27.8 per cent and the CSU 7.4 per cent – meaning Schroeder came in first with his party’s 34.3 per cent.
Subject: German news