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Europe

German Press Review: Labor Reform Not Much Reform at All

Germany's editorialists wondered why Monday's coalition compromise on a touchy labor reform bill didn't happen earlier and wrote that Palestinian leader Arafat is in a bind following his most-recent PM's resignation.

The General-Anzeiger in Bonn thinks the coalition Social Democrat-Green government could have reached agreement on a labor market reform bill a bit earlier, as the changes made Monday don't drastically change the proposed law. The agreement does avoid a potential fight within the coalition government and enable the SPD leadership around Chancellor Gerhard Schröder again to highlight the party’s social profile, which has come under attack because of his reform package.

According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the Monday's agreement was simply aimed at ensuring the survival of the government, a goal that seems to have been achieved. But the paper points out that even disregarding social democratic members of parliament against the bill, there is no uniform picture within Schröder's SPD in particular, and the party is by no means internally convinced of the direction of the reforms.

The Kieler Nachrichten accuses the coalition government of not being tough enough in its reform drive. If the government was really intent on tackling the country’s

mass unemployment, it would have to place a much bigger burden on society: easing employee protection laws, lower starting wages for the unemployed, seriously taking on the country's powerful unions and demanding firms to create alliances for jobs. But maybe the government is right, the north German daily continues, in believing that

German society cannot be expected to accept so many changes. In that case, no one should be surprised any more at over five million unemployed.

Following Ahmed Qorei’s decision to quit, the Tagesspiegel thinks there is one good thing about the fact that the newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister

threw in the towel so quickly. Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat must now show whether he wants terror or peace. The Berlin-based paper goes on to say that after the

resignation of Mahmoud Abbas a little more than a month ago, Arafat did not need to come up with an answer because Ariel Sharon came to his aid: his threat

to expel Arafat made many Palestinians rally around their stubborn old leader. But now Arafat’s policy is again at a dead end and the only plan he has is to stay in power.