Schroder vows to continue reforms

AFTER A string of electoral disasters left him at the mercy of the opposition, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder vowed yesterday to continue economic reforms in defiance of his own party.

After Sunday's regional polls in Saarland and Brandenburg, the government's influence in parliament's second chamber, the Bundesrat, has shrunk further. Saarland was captured by the Christian Democrats, while in Brandenburg the Social Democrats lost their absolute majority and must now seek coalition partners.

Mr Schroder's government is now assured of only 26 of the 69 votes in the Bundesrat, the chamber that must approve all important pieces of legislation. The first test of the new arithmetic will be the government's crucial austerity budget, which seeks cuts of DM30bn (pounds 10.1bn) next year and offers a better deal to business.

"This tough programme to clean up public finances was a cause of our losses, but we will stick with it," Mr Schroder declared. The fate of the austerity package, derided by left-wing Social Democrats and trade unions, now rests with the opposition Christian Democrats. Mr Schroder will be forced into horse-trading, and some parts of the programme are likely to be weakened.

Germany is entering a period of unconventional politics, governed at one level by Social Democrats and Greens, and in the Bundesrat by an unstated "grand coalition" of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats. There is no guarantee, however, that such an arrangement will work.

Wolfgang Schauble, the leader of the Christian Democrats, made encouraging noises yesterday, promising not to block government legislation solely for party political reasons. But the Christian Democrats are also a divided party, and Mr Schauble does not have absolute control over his regional grandees in the Bundesrat. Peter Muller, the victorious Christian Democrat leader in Saarland, has already declared that his Land will not back the government.

But first, Mr Schroder must get the Bill through the lower house, the Bundestag. After Sunday's fiasco, the left feels more convinced that the Chancellor's "Third Way" policies pose a mortal threat to the party's future. "If the Chancellor does not listen to the party leftists, then it might be useful to look more closely at the election results," said Andrea Nahles, a leading leftist MP. But Mr Schroder is in no position to listen to the left, because the changes the traditionalists demand would certainly be vetoed by the Christian Democrats, who now hold the upper hand.

For this reason alone, Mr Schroder is condemned to seek his majority on the right, and to increase his struggle against the left. At the same time, the Chancellor is braced for further election defeats, hoping that the expected economic upturn will stop the rot before it is too late.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas