September 17, 2005

Germany's Schroeder Fighting For His Political Life...

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his Marxist...er I mean Social Democrat Party are fighting down to the wire for whatever votes they can muster in the face of a strong challenge from the Christian Democrats (Germany's more conservative party) in tomorrow's parliamentary elections.

The leader of the Christian Democrats - Angela Merkel - is campaigning on job creation and economic reform. God knows Germany could use some of that these days. It's unemployment rate is 11.4% and economic growth was last recorded at a sluggish 1.6%.

What happened to the German powerhouse that once challenged the U.S. economically? Simple: Socialism. It looks good on paper, but in the real world the enormous welfare state Germany has created is crushing its once prosperous economy. Merkel is challenging Schroeder's Social Democrats for control of the legislature and is polling well in the lead, though short of a true majority. The only question at this point is how strong a showing the Christian Democrats will have. The Free Democrat Party may earn enough representation to be able to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats.

If the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats are able to form a coalition government, it is widely believed Merkel would seek to strengthen relations with the United States, Germany's longtime security partner from the Cold War. She also could loosen the ties with France that Schroeder cultivated as his opposition to the war in Iraq made him unwelcome in the White House.

With the Forsa poll showing a quarter of voters undecided, other major parties joined Merkel and Schroeder in putting aside the German tradition of suspending campaigning the day before elections. Free Democrats candidate Guido Westerwelle spoke at a rally in Dortmund and the Greens' Joschka Fischer rallied voters in Hamburg.

The results should be interesting...and may bode well for future U.S-German relations.

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