Jump to content
Clubplanet Nightlife Community
Sign in to follow this  
sassa

German Elections Too Close To Call

Recommended Posts

I hope Schroeder wins...

German Elections Too Close to Call

Sun Sep 22, 3:31 PM ET

By TONY CZUCZKA, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his conservative challenger Edmund Stoiber were reported running neck-and-neck Sunday in one of the nation's closest postwar elections, roiled by tension with the United States over Iraq.

Projections by three television networks combining exit polls with early returns collected at key polling stations showed a slight but statistically insignificant lead for two Christian Democratic parties led by Stoiber, with about 39 percent, to about 38 percent for Schroeder's Social Democrats. The first official government returns were expected after 6 p.m. EDT.

The Greens party, in coalition with the Social Democrats for the last four years, was polling at about 9 percent — which could be decisive in helping Schroeder stay in power. Early returns showed the liberal Free Democrats, Stoiber's likely coalition partner, polling at 7 percent.

According to ZDF public television, the Social Democrats and Greens would win 300 seats to 297 for the Christian Democrats with their likely coalition partner, the liberal Free Democrats. Another public TV station, ARD, projected an even tighter race, with 299 seats for Schroeder's likely coalition and 298 for Stoiber's.

N-tv private television, using projections from the Forsa polling agency, gave 303 seats to a Social Democratic-Green coalition and 295 seats to the challengers.

Appearing confident, Schroeder told supporters at his party headquarters that the prospects appeared good to continue governing for another four years.

"This is suspenseful evening, a very suspenseful evening," Schroeder said. "A majority is a majority. If we have it, we will use it. We want to continue — and it looks like we will be able to."

Stoiber was equally jubilant.

"One thing is already clear: We have won the election," Stoiber told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters. "The CDU, the great party of the center, is back. It is the biggest party in parliament. We will make what we can of this great result."

The Greens were elated by the strongest showing in their 22-year history. Greens leader Rezzo Schlauch said his party got momentum from the Iraq debate and the popularity of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. "We are so happy ... There was the issue of war and peace, and we have a highly competent foreign minister. It was a combination of the issues and the people in charge."

At the Social Democratic headquarters, party secretary general Franz Muentefering said his party would pursue a coalition with the Greens even under the narrowest of majorities.

"Coalitions are always difficult but we want to stay in power," Muentefering said.

The final days of the hotly contested race were overshadowed by tensions with the United States over Iraq, in particular by Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin's reported

While Schroeder has resisted calls to force her resignation, a government official said he would not include the minister in his Cabinet if he wins re-election. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a campaign already remarkable for straining relations with the United States because of Schroeder's emphatic opposition to American military action to oust Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites), Washington responded with anger to the remarks attributed to the justice minister.

Daeubler-Gmelin has denied drawing a direct comparison between Bush and Hitler. In a confused explanation, she initially said she had compared their methods, and later told reporters she had referred to diversionary tactics during a chaotic discussion, saying, "We know that from our history, since Adolf Nazi."

Despite attacks by Stoiber for undermining U.S.-German relations, Schroeder's anti-war stance resonated with Germans who overwhelmingly oppose a new Mideast conflict.

Schroeder's unusually harsh rhetoric — along with his handling of Germany's catastrophic floods and strong performance in a televised debate — helped him close the gap with the Bavarian governor, who led the polls for months by attacking Schroeder's economic record.

Voter turnout was running behind 1998, with official figures showing 42.8 percent of the more than 61 million voters casting ballots by 2 p.m., compared to 47 percent at the same hour four years ago.

Though the ruckus over the justice minister marred the final hours of his campaign, Schroeder appeared confident and smiled as he voted in his home city of Hanover. He declined to answer questions about the minister's fate, but admitted: "One is always a little nervous."

Stoiber has used the affair as ammunition, accusing the chancellor of whipping up emotions against the United States, Germany's staunchest ally, for electoral gain. Stoiber has pledged to repair the damage with Washington if elected.

On Iraq, Schroeder has insisted he would not commit troops for a war even if the United Nations backs military action. Like the chancellor, Stoiber opposes unilateral U.S. action, but he insists Germany must be ready to support any U.N.-backed action against Saddam — though not with front-line troops.

Stoiber also wants faster tax cuts than Schroeder, especially for small and midsize businesses. He pledged to overturn a Schroeder law that widened the powers of labor unions in workplace decisions and to curb rising energy taxes. And he intends to scrap an immigration law passed under Schroeder that he says is too liberal.

With two big and three smaller parties competing Sunday, the Free Democrats could resume the kingmaker's role they played in most postwar governments.

The major party best able to form a stable coalition — not necessarily the one with the most votes — will lead the next government and parliament which will be downsized from 669 to 598 seats.

Schroeder, 58, has governed with the Greens since unseating Helmut Kohl in 1998 and ending 16 years of conservative rule.

Stoiber, 60, has embraced the Free Democrats as he ran for national office after governing Bavaria for nine years. But the pro-business party FDP refused to rule out a coalition with either party in hopes of replacing the Greens as third-strongest force.

Early returns indicated the ex-communist Party of Democratic Socialism failed to achieve the 5 percent of the vote necessary to enter parliament. They still could make it into parliament if candidates win three seats directly.

Germans cast two votes Sunday, one for a local candidate and one for a party. The party vote is critical because it determines the percentage of seats each party wins in the Bundestag, or parliament.

To enter parliament, parties must either win 5 percent of the vote or at least three seats directly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Schroeder Wins Second Term

Associated Press

Sunday, September 22, 2002; 7:44 PM

BERLIN (AP) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats won Germany's closest postwar election Sunday, after a campaign that preyed on fears of a war with Iraq and unleashed anti-American rhetoric.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, official results showed the Social Democrats and Greens combined won 47.1 percent of the vote to continue their coalition for another four years. The conservative challengers led by Bavarian governor Edmund Stoiber had 45.9 percent in a likely alliance with the liberal Free Democrats, who had 7.4 percent.

The Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens won 305 seats in the new parliament, compared to 294 for the conservative challengers led by Bavarian governor Edmund Stoiber, according to projections by ARD public television.

A jubilant Schroeder appeared arm-in-arm with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the Greens' most popular politician, before cheering supporters at Social Democratic Party headquarters.

"We have hard times in front of us and we're going to make it together," Schroeder shouted above the din.

Stoiber stopped short of conceding in a speech to rowdy supporters in Munich, but he predicted that Schroeder's majority would be too slim to form a lasting coalition.

"Should the result not allow us to form a government, then I predict before you that this Schroeder government will rule for only a very short time," Stoiber said.

"We will continue to state: This (Social Democratic-Greens) coalition will not heal our country’s economy and further there will be no release from the isolation from Europe and the United States."

Stoiber said Schroeder will have to repair relations with Washington, damaged by a new German assertiveness that emerged over American determination to oust Saddam Hussein.

Schroeder, whose outspoken defiance against war with Iraq was credited with giving him a late-push in the tight campaign, said he had no intention of backing down. He has insisted he would not commit troops for a war even if the United Nations backs military action.

"I have formulated a German position, and I have nothing to retract on that count," Schroeder said in a panel discussion as the election results were being tallied.

While Schroeder's anti-war stand resonated with German voters, the rhetoric reached a damaging peak in the final days of his campaign when Justice Minister Herta Daeuberl-Gmelin was reported to have compared President Bush to Hitler for threatening war to distract from domestic problems. She denied saying it.

The Social Democrats already have made clear she would not have a post if they are re-elected, however Schroeder sought to appease Washington with a conciliatory letter to Bush. Washington reacted cooly - indicating to analysts that a Schroeder team will have to work hard to repair the traditionally strong bond.

"It seems to me that for the relationship and the Iraq issue itself there's no doubt that Schroeder was trying to tap radical pacifist and anti-American sentiment in the population and preliminarily it doesn't seem to have hurt him. And it may have even helped him," said Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute think tank in Berlin.

Stoiber, who used the ruckus over Iraq as ammunition, again accused the chancellor of whipping up emotions against the United States for electoral gain. Stoiber has pledged to repair the damage with Washington if elected.

"What I criticize above all is that (Schroeder) opened the floodgates for anti-American tones," Stoiber said on German television, calling the crisis with the United States "the most devastating of the last 50 years."

Stoiber, like the chancellor, opposes unilateral U.S. action, but he insists Germany must be ready to support any U.N.-backed action against Saddam - though not with frontline troops.

Greens were elated by a trend showing the strongest showing in their 22-year history. Leader Rezzo Schlauch said his party got momentum from the Iraq debate and the popularity of Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

"We are so happy ... There was the issue of war and peace, and we have a highly competent foreign minister. It was a combination of the issues and the people in charge," Schlauch said.

According to ZDF public television, the Social Democrats and Greens would control 307 seats compared to 297 for the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats in a possible 606-seat parliament.

N-tv private television, using projections from the Forsa polling agency, gave a larger advantage to a Social Democratic-Green coalition, with 310 seats, compared to the challengers' 295 seats, in a possible 607-seat parliament.

Some 80 percent of Germany's 61 million voters turned out Sunday - casting two votes, one for a local candidate and one for a party. The party vote is critical because it determines the percentage of seats each party wins in the Bundestag, or parliament.

Some 80 percent of Germany's 61 million voters turned out Sunday - casting two votes, one for a local candidate and one for a party. The party vote is critical because it determines the percentage of seats each party wins in the Bundestag, or parliament.

Stoiber, 60, Bavaria's governor for the past nine years, wants faster tax cuts than Schroeder especially for small and midsize businesses. He pledges to overturn a Schroeder law that widened the powers of labor unions in workplace decisions and to curb rising energy taxes. And he intends to scrap an immigration law passed under Schroeder that he says is too liberal.

© 2002 The Associated Press

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Schröder Stands by Stance on Iraq

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 2:21 p.m. ET

BERLIN (AP) -- Emboldened by his razor-thin victory in Germany's closest postwar election, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Monday stuck by his emphatic opposition to a war on Iraq after a campaign that angered Washington for unleashing anti-American tones.

Schroeder's Social Democrats secured another four years for his coalition with the small Greens party in Sunday's vote, but the chancellor must confront a tougher opposition as he attempts to revive Europe's largest economy and rebuild ties with the United States.

Schroeder's victory handed Europe's dwindling left another boost a week after Social Democrats triumphed in Sweden.

Despite indications from Washington that the relationship with Berlin had been poisoned by campaign rhetoric stemming from Schroeder's anti-war stand, the chancellor insisted a friendship nurtured under Cold War tensions remained strong. Allies, he said, can withstand differences -- not only on Iraq but also on other areas, like strategies to combat global warming.

``I think this difference of opinion will remain,'' Schroeder said Monday. ``We will have it out in a fair and open way without in any way endangering the basis of German-American relations. That is my firm intention.''

Schroeder's outspoken opposition to a military conflict with Iraq was credited with giving him a late push in a tight campaign. But it provoked a rare open spat with the United States and accusations he whipped up emotions against a vital ally for electoral gain.

``I always said that the meaning of friendship can only be that one sometimes differs on specific issues,'' Schroeder said Monday. ``How else could it be?''

He noted that the United States and Germany have differed in the past on topics such as global warming, farm subsidies and U.S. steel tariffs.

Schroeder's majority in parliament was shaved to only nine seats from a 21 previously. His conservative rival, Edmund Stoiber, said that slender majority would not hold long.

``I predict that this Schroeder government will rule for only a very short time,'' Stoiber said. ``What I criticize above all is that (Schroeder) opened the floodgates for anti-American tones,'' Stoiber said on German television, calling the crisis with the United States ``the most devastating of the last 50 years.''

But European Commission President Romano Prodi played down the German-American spat. ``If there is a 'poisoning' of relations then there is a misunderstanding of democracy in Germany. We must be prepared to work together to discuss issues publicly,'' he told reporters.

Schroeder recalled that he staked his political future last year on a parliamentary decision to send German troops to Afghanistan, a signal of Schroeder's ``unlimited solidarity'' in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

``I'm quite sure that, beyond the campaign noises, this has been registered in America,'' he told reporters on Monday.

Analysts expect Schroeder to adopt a softer tone after the election, but he showed no intention Monday of backing down. He has insisted he would not commit troops to a war in Iraq even if the United Nations backs military action.

``I have formulated a German position, and I have nothing to retract on that count,'' Schroeder told German television Monday.

Yet the Bush administration remained cold.

``I have no comment on the German elections outcome, but I would have to say that the way it was conducted was notably unhelpful. And as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning the relationship,'' Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said while attending a NATO meeting in Warsaw, Poland.

When asked Monday about a letter Schroeder sent to Bush last week, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said: ``It really didn't read like an apology. It read more like an attempt at an explanation.''

Bush, at a rally in Trenton, N.J., did not speak about Schroeder, but was addressing the war on terrorism when he pointedly told the crowd: ``I made it clear to the world, that either you're with us or you're with the enemy and that doctrine still stands.''

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will remain Schroeder's most important Cabinet member, entrusted with the role of repairing U.S.-German relations and empowered by the Greens' strong showing that ensured the chancellor's second four-year term.

Also expected to retain their posts were Interior Minister Otto Schily, the official charged with domestic security, and Finance Minister Hans Eichel, the architect of plans to balance the federal budget by 2006.

A top Schroeder aide, Franz Muentefering, said Monday he would not rule out giving the Greens an additional Cabinet post, for a total of four.

In the most dramatic switch, the justice minister ensured her own doom with reported remarks comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler. Schroeder said the minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, had submitted a letter Monday giving up the post in a new Cabinet, after receiving clear signals on Sunday the government would not have her.

The chancellor may also be looking for a new labor minister, after the government's failure to make a dent in unemployment.

Official election results released early Monday showed the Social Democrats and Greens won a combined 47.1 percent of the vote for the lower house, or Bundestag. Opposition parties led by the conservatives totaled 45.9 percent.

That gave the Social Democrats and Greens 306 seats in the new 603-seat parliament, compared to 295 for conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats. Reformed communists won the other two seats

But prospects for a conservative coalition were hurt by a scandal in the Free Democratic Party over deputy leader Juergen Moellemann's renewed attacks on a prominent German Jewish leader. The party's leadership demanded his resignation and he gave it on Monday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×