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Europe

European Press Review: What Can Schröder Do Now?

European newspapers on Monday reflected on the results of the European Parliament elections that delivered a blow to ruling parties across Europe.

Many European papers had an eye-catching photo on the front page of five elderly Hungarian women wearing colorful traditional costumes filling in their ballot papers and casting their first votes in the EU since their country joined

the bloc just over a month ago.

Some headlines read: “EU voters snub Europe’s leaders”, or “EU voters send a Message”. The editorials focused in particular on the humiliating defeat of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats.

Milan’s Corriere della Sera asked ‘what can Schröder do now?’ It commented that the chancellor and his Social Democratic Party (SPD) are paying dearly for their attempts to reform Germany’s social system and its economy, which has been stagnant for the past two years. But the daily noted that some observers are predicting that the blow will force Schröder to start compromising. Schröder has always done well when his back was to the wall, it wrote; but it was stumped as to what he can possibly do to get himself out of trouble this time.

Swiss paper Der Bund in Bern said the results, a historical low, are a warning to the Social Democrats that Germans don’t want reforms. The paper remarked that while Germany itself is doing badly, particularly with regard to

its state deficit and the overburdened social system, the people themselves are still doing quite well. You can see it in the cars they drive, the Swiss paper remarked, adding that Germans’ desire to travel hasn’t lessened either.

Copenhagen’s Politiken looked at a different aspect of European parliament elections, one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world. Some 350

million people were eligible to vote, but the paper said that no matter how the facts are turned around, far too few people exercised their right. But the daily was none the less happy with the election and described it as a good day

for Europe – especially, it said, in Denmark, because the euro-skeptics lost.

Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung also commented on what it sees as a lose-lose situation. The SPD now finds itself in the fateful situation that whatever Schröder does is wrong. He promotes budget cuts, which makes people afraid that

their social system will be dismantled. He pushes for new debts in order to promote investment, which makes the public worry that their social system will collapse. The paper warned that if Schröder doesn’t succeed in winning back the public’s confidence, the next 12 months will spell the death of his government.