It was like a boxer into the ring that Gerhard Schroeder arrived to make the keynote speech at his party conference. A true political fighter, the Chancellor came out swinging against the opposition conservatives, aiming to land a few body blows as they continue to hold a steady lead in the polls.
With just two and a half weeks before the general election he told the SPD faithful to keep campaigning hard: “I tell you, nothing is decided. Don’t be worried, this election will also be decided in the last few days.” He used his speech to slam conservative policies, which he said would create a cold and inhumane society. “Let’s make this leap forward together,” he concluded. The energy of the Chancellor’s campaigning has drawn admiration even from the opposition, although top conservative Edmund Stoiber did quip that it looked rather like a “farewell tour”. Critics point to the centre left SPD’s failure to tackle unemployment, rein in the budget, and fix pension and health systems in disarray.