Germany isn't working and Kohl is in a fix

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The Independent Online
Confronted by the spectacle of ever-lengthening dole queues, Chancellor Helmut Kohl conceded yesterday for the first time that his government will not fulfil its pledge to halve the number of unemployed by 2000.

"It now appears this absolute goal will certainly not be achieved. But I am holding on to the goal of cutting unemployment as fast as possible." Mr Kohl first made his promise two years ago. At the halfway mark to the millennium, unemployment stands 500,000 higher than two years ago. In recent months the Chancellor has been trying to wriggle out of his rash commitment. On current trends, even his new goal of merely trimming the numbers might may soon have to be abandoned. Yesterday saw publication of the latest monthly figures, showing again nothing but an inexorable rise, and setting another negative post-war record. According to the Federal Labour Office, the seasonally adjusted jobless figure rose last month to 4.54 million for the first time. The jobless rate is 11.9 per cent, twice as high as in Britain or the US.

While the German economy, growing at 2.5 per cent, is set to expand further this year, experts anticipate little change in unemployment. Some pessimists are even forecasting a rise to 5 million. There is every chance of Mr Kohl going to the polls in September with the worst record for any chancellor in post-war Germany. "We must simply change," he declared yesterday as his party prepared to thrash out its election strategy behind closed doors. "We" in this case was meant to be Germany, as Mr Kohl does not see what he could have done better during his 16-year rule.