Schroeder to stand down on German Unity Day: report
29 September 2005
BERLIN – A government spokesman Thursday dismissed as “total nonsense” a report that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will resign next week to pave the way for a grand coalition German government under Angela Merkel whose party won the most votes in national elections.
“This is rubbish – total nonsense,” said a spokesman
The B.Z. newspaper in Berlin, quoting unnamed sources close to the chancellor, said Schroeder would use the October 3 German Unity Day public holiday as a dignified backdrop to stand down.
This would follow a by-election in Dresden on Sunday, where both parties are still campaigning hard, even though results in the eastern city cannot change the federal parliament’s balance of power.
Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD) won 222 seats in Germany’s September 18 election, compared to 225 seats for Merkel’s Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU).
Both leaders have – up until now – insisted they should head the next German government which is likely to be a grand coalition of both their parties.
But after a second round of negotiations on Wednesday, Schroeder did not repeat his demand to stay on as chancellor. He also did not withdraw his earlier claim to the post.
Merkel, while hailing the talks as constructive, stuck to her demand to be the new chancellor.
Both Schroeder and Merkel were upbeat and insisted they were certain a grand coalition could be set up and agreed to meet again for further talks on October 5.
A commentary by Johann Michael Moeller in the newspaper Die Welt said the SPD and Schroeder himself have given up hope of supplying the chancellor in the next government.
“The SPD is trying to sell (Schroeder’s) scalp for as high a price as possible,” said Moeller.
Analysts said it would not make sense for Schroeder to quit at such an early stage in negotiations with Merkel’s CDU/CSU which are expected to last well into October.
Subject: German news