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German Press Review: German Parties Tango over Reforms

German editorialists looked at party conventions held by the country's Greens and Christian Democrats and devoted a few lines to the gains made by radical parties in the Northern Ireland elections.

The Mannheimer Morgen called the party convention in Dresden an unspectacular affair. Do the Greens even have any power left, asked the daily? And then gave an answer: Not really. The big debate over Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s reform package is between the ruling SPD and the opposition Christian Democrats. It seems that the Greens are out in the cold, left to play just a minor role.

While the Greens convention has ended, the opposition Christian Democrats is just beginning in the city of Leipzig. The Handelsblatt newspaper saw compromise by the CDU on parts of a collective set of reforms put forward by the ruling Social Democrats. The paper foresaw a possible consensus on proposed changes to the labor market, including redefining the rules for hiring and firing employees.

The modification and restructuring of the German armed forces was also stirring comment. Defense minister Peter Struck has big plans to streamline the army. But does that mean the end of conscription? The General Anzeiger seemed to think so and was not pleased with the proposed changes. The paper said it will be a sad day, “a goodbye that hurts,” as the paper described it, and one that has been part of an ongoing process.

German papers also had a bit to say on international issues, including the latest legislative assembly vote in Northern Ireland. The Nordwest Zeitung said the result, in which the smaller radical parties gained the most votes, had basically put the peace process on ice. It is uncertain when the northern Irish government and the regional parliament can be set up again in Belfast, wrote the daily, with a longer period of rule from London now almost guaranteed.