Schröder loses motion of confidence

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Friday, July 1, 2005

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Germany
German federal elections 2005
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The German Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler), Gerhard Schröder, deliberately lost a confidence vote in the German lower parliamentary house, the Bundestag. Schröder had aimed to lose the vote of confidence in order to dissolve the Bundestag and to achieve earlier elections. In debate, Schröder argued, that there is no safe majority for his policy in the Bundestag. In his second term as Chancellor, he tried to start a reform agenda (Agenda 2010) which aimed to cut the budget deficit and unemployment in Germany, which has been criticised as neo-liberalism by several supporters of his party.

During the debate, opposition leader Angela Merkel explained that her party, the Christian Democrats, supports early elections. However, she did criticise the coalition government of the Social-Democrats and the Greens, for the country's high unemployment rates (which have peaked at 5 million) and low economic growth. A Green deputy, Werner Schulz, attacked Schröder's using the vote of confidence in order to achieve early elections, which is from his point of view unconstitutional. Franz Müntefering, leader of the Social Democrats had invited members of the ruling coalition to abstain from voting. 151 deputies supported Schröder, 296 voted against him and 148 abstained from voting.

After the lost motion of confidence, the German President Horst Köhler can examine Schröder's arguments for three weeks and dissolve the Bundestag while setting a date for early elections. At least one deputy has announced he intends going to the Federal Constitutional Court to appeal against Schöder's way of using the vote of confidence. The court will then have to decide whether it was constitutional or not.

All parties know that there might be early elections by September. At the moment, opinion polls are showing a majority for conservative opposition.

Audio Summary

(The following summary was included in the audio release of Wikinews for 7/2):

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany asked parliament to dissolve the government and order new elections to be held next year, one year earlier than otherwise would be required. Schröder decided to take the move to demand a vote of no confidence in view of his inability to solve his country's current economic problems. It is predicted that if the request is approved by the German Supreme Court and German President Horst Köhler, that Schroeder's government would not return to power, and the most likely person to become Chancellor will be Angela Merkel, who would become the first female chancellor in the country's history.

Sources

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