After losing one election German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder must now prepare for another – and this time his political future is at stake. His Social Democrats were heavily defeated by the opposition Christian Democrats in yesterday’s state election in North Rhine/Westphalia – a party stronghold for four decades. His hard-hitting social and welfare reforms are seen as the main cause.
Announcing an early general election Schroeder said: “With the bitter election result for my party in North Rhine-Westphalia the political support for our reforms to continue has been called into question.”
“I see it as my responsibility and duty as German Chancellor to persuade the President (Horst Koehler) .to call new elections for the Bundestag as quickly as possible, realistically by autumn 2005.” Early predictions in the count made depressing reading for SPD supporters, putting the Christian Democrats on course for 45 percent.
The vote of the Social Democrats, under the leadership of state premier Peer Steinbrück, vote had fallen from almost 43 percent in the last election in 2000 to around 37 percent.