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Germany

Almost Third of Election Candidates Female

Almost a third of the candidates in Germany's general election on September 18 are women, the country's electoral commission said on Wednesday. The commission said there were 1,017 women among the 3,648 candidates standing in the elections, which are expected to see conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel become Germany's first woman chancellor. Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) however have fewer female candidates on its election list than the almost 40 percent of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats. They can boast that 209 out of their 470 candidates are women, compared to the CDU's 168 women candidates out of a total of 524. The Greens fare best however in the equality stakes, with 106 women on a list of 238 candidates. The newly formed Left Party on the other hand only has 83 women on their list of 302 candidates. With opinion polls predicting a sure victory for the CDU on September 18, discussion in the German media is focusing on what it will mean to have a woman as chancellor. Though Merkel routinely stresses her party's plans to help families and working mothers, she has sought to play down any fuss about the probable historic first. On Wednesday, she took a broadside from Schröder's wife, Doris Schröder-Köpf, who told the newspaper Die Zeit that Merkel cannot claim to understand the situation of women because she had never had children. "Ms Merkel's life is not such that she can represent the experiences of the majority of women," Schröder-Köpf, who has two daughters, told the paper.

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