Death of candidate will delay final results for German federal election by weeks

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Thursday, September 8, 2005

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Germany
German federal elections 2005
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The death of a candidate for the Bundestag could delay the final outcome of the German federal election by several weeks.

The 43-year old Kerstin Lorenz, of the far right NPD, suffered a stroke during a campaign appearance on Monday and slid into a coma. She died on Wednesday in the hospital.

The NPD must now nominate a new candidate for the constituency of Dresden I and election officials have to reprint hundreds of thousands of ballot papers. Also, the vote of anyone who already sent in their absentee ballot will be declared invalid, and these voters need new ballots as well. The leading election official for the state of Saxonia, Irene Schneider-Böttcher, said it would be impossible to achieve all that was required within the time remaining before election day, September 18th. She ordered a by-election for the 2nd of October.

If the election results are extremely close, the outstanding Dresden I by-election result could potentially change the final outcome, which would leave Germany in uncertainty. While Dresden I is only one out of 299 constituencies, it could ultimately decide who will govern the country for the next few years.

The projected majority of the opposition parties FDP and CDU, which headed the polls for months, is shrinking with current government parties Greens and SPD, along with the Party of the Left, getting closer by the day.

Some constitutional lawyers have also raised concerns if it would be legal to announce any results at all on September 18th. They argue that in the case of a close result, the voters in Dresden would realize that they will be the one to decide the election, which could shift their votes. And on the other side, if the race is already over, they might decide to stay at home.

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