Monday, May 23, 2005

Schroeder: I hate capitalism

Germany: Last election it was anti_Americanism, now its about capitalist pigs! They tried this ploy in the North Rhine-Westphalia elections over the weekend and it didn't work, I doubt it will work nationwide.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party took aim at the "market radicalism" of the conservative opposition Monday as it geared up for early national elections, signaling it will present itself as defending social programs and workers' rights. Schroeder called for early elections Sunday after his Social Democrats suffered a stunning state election defeat in a traditional stronghold. He said voters' decision to end the party's 39-year grip on Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, had undermined the national mandate he needs to reform the struggling economy. Party chairman Franz Muentefering said Schroeder plans to clear the way for new elections by holding a parliamentary confidence vote July 1 — setting the scene for the vote to be held by Sept. 18. The tactic was used by Schroeder's predecessor, Helmut Kohl, who forced elections in 1983 by calling a confidence vote in which his own supporters abstained. Conservative leaders were readying their challenge for the elections, closing ranks around the leader of the main opposition Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel, as Schroeder's likely challenger. While recent polls have shown a strong national lead for the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and their coalition partner, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's Greens, were confident of winning back voters. "The aim is to make clear that we have to push through the reforms, for which the chancellor needs support," Klaus Uwe Benneter, the party's general secretary, told ZDF television. "But we also have to show that what is at stake now is the social aspect of the market economy — this fall, we will have to conduct a debate between those want ... to push through market radicalism and those to whom protection from dismissal and worker participation in managing companies is important."

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