Monitor: All the News of the World - Oskar Lafontaine's Resignation

European reaction to the resignation of Oskar Lafontaine, Germany's finance minister
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The Independent Culture
Handelsblatt

Germany

THE GOVERNMENT is in serious crisis. Schroder has won the power struggle against Lafontaine. But Lafontaine's resignation also damages Schroder. Schroder and his new finance minister now have a chance to switch to a policy that encourages investments: a modern reform policy which Schroder supported in talks with industry before the election. The Chancellor has the opportunity of a fresh start.

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Le Figaro

France

LAFONTAINE FOUGHT hard to obtain his position as a Superminister of Finance. At the head of the Social Democratic party, he believed himself to have the Chancellor in the palm of his hand and to be the true director of the "Red-Green" coalition, which he had tailored to his own measures. But he became blinded by his own power. He believed that Germany was ready to follow his radical policies, his last error being to recommend a reconciliation/realignment with the former Communists of the Eastern bloc. As in France, when in 1981 the socialists had come to power after a long stint in opposition, Schroder's honeymoon period will be marked by a brief shift towards the left. Now that Lafontaine has left the Government, the Chancellor, who still retains all his popularity, has room to manoeuvre. It is now up to him to make sense of the slogan, "New Centre", which he coined during his electoral campaign.

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Frankfurter

Allgemeine Zeitung

Germany

THE POWER struggle has been settled, but we shall have to wait and see whether the winner will be able to enjoy his triumph. Even Schroder probably cannot calculate the impact of Lafontaine's resignation on the SPD. If Schroder follows the advice of former Chancellors, he will strive to become SPD chairman. But will the Party go along with this? Since Lafontaine's resignation comes at same time as SPD-FDP agreement on the new citizenship law, and since FDP has given signals of possible change of direction, Green members of the Cabinet will now tremble. If Schroder has a chance of changing coalition partners, then it is now. It would be an operation filled with deadly risk. But perhaps Schroder's system of power has already collapsed.

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Suddeutsche Zeitung

Germany

LAFONTAINE HAS thrown in the towel; he has capitulated to Schroder. His resignation has transformed Schroder's "keep-smiling" Cabinet overnight into a smoking ruin. It confirms that practically every possible mistake has been made. Schroder kept appearing as master of the house, but did not realise that the house was about to collapse. It is not the Greens who have plunged this government into crisis, but Schroder and the SPD.

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General-Anzeiger

Germany

THE GOVERNMENT crisis is bigger and more dangerous than any crisis under Kohl. Lafontaine's resignation means that Red-Green have lost the decisive guarantor of this alliance. Erosion of power might now begin to accelerate.

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Liberation

France

WITH THE departure of Lafontaine, the most notorious figure of the German left fades away. Is Schroder really now the sole master of the destiny of the "New Centre"? Certainly, the departure of Oskar Lafontaine rids him of a loud and embarrassing rival, and relieves him of the necessity of resolving the contradictions that amplified their animosity.

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