German president Horst Koehler has cleared the way for early elections set to take place on the 18th of September. It was a long-anticipated announcement since Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for the vote after his Social Democrats suffered resounding defeats in state elections in May. Brushing aside concerns that he was trampling upon the German constitution, Koehler said he had opted to follow the will of the people and all major parties. Schroeder deliberately lost a vote of confidence in parliament on 1st July in order to pave the way for an election a year earlier than planned. But things are not looking good for the Chancellor. Opinion polls put him 15 to 19 points behind his conservative rival Angela Merkel, in a sign Germans are growing fed up with the government’s reform measures and persistently high unemployment.
Koehler announces election decision