Germany's conservative opposition, pegged to win a probable September general election, has played down hopes that it would cut taxes immediately upon gaining office. Instead senior party officials ensured there would be some pain before a tax gain. Germany, whose budget deficit is set to breach EU rules for a third consecutive year, needs drastic spending cuts to fill gaping holes, they argued. "The country is in such a crisis, that we need a simplification and not, as previously thought, a reduction of taxes," Hesse state premier Roland Koch of the Christian Democrats (CDU) told Handelsblatt newspaper. That could mean severe cuts, possibly to pensions or to subsidies, he said summarizing statements by other CDU leaders. Koch said voters must be told that they could expect "pain before gain," with a first four-year term remedying problems before improvements could come in a second term. "In the first four years, we could show we have turned the tanker in the right direction, but nothing more. Our motto would be: some things will hurt, but in the end the country will prosper."