German Press Review: Race Just Started for Bush and Kerry | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.03.2004
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German Press Review: Race Just Started for Bush and Kerry

German editorialists weighed out U.S. Senator Kerry's challenge to President Bush and their own upcoming presidential poll. The German high court decision to protect citizens from wire-tapping also attracted comment.

After John Kerry won nine out of 10 primaries on "Super Tuesday," effectively becoming the Democratic Party's nominee to challenge President George W. Bush in this year's presidential elections, the Badische Neueste Nachrichten said the Massachusetts senator had pulled off an astonishing feat in view of the fact that only eight weeks ago he had been written off by the media. The paper wrote that Kerry had shown himself to be a tough fighter who achieves top form when he is forced into a corner, a quality that distinguished him when he was an officer on a gun ship in Vietnam.

The Financial Times Deutschland, while praising Kerry’s performance in the primaries, was convinced the senator was going to have a hard time in the election campaign. The daily pointed out that even if President Bush’s ratings had dropped in recent opinion polls, he was by no means weakened. He just wasn't yet conducting an election campaign. But, the paper commented, now he will pull out all the stops and make the most of his position as war president and supreme guardian of the United States.

A new president, albeit one with very little political power, is also to be elected in Germany later this year, and the country’s opposition chiefs continued to bicker on Wednesday over the name of the candidate, amid drawn-out talks that have become an embarrassment. A series of meetings between the party leaders had failed to produce an agreement, succeeding only in eliminating one highly tipped candidate.

According to the Berliner Kurier, it was no longer a question of finding the best man or woman for the job. It said the choice was dominated by the parties' tactical considerations, particularly on the part of the opposition Christian Democrats and Free Democrats. The paper opined that the president should actually be elected by the people, but the politicians didn't have the courage to make such a decision. After all, their candidate could fail -- and a better one could win, someone the electorate wanted in office.

Germany's highest court on Wednesday restricted bugging by authorities in private homes, limiting a 1998 law designed to fight terrorism and organized crime. Plaintiffs, including a former justice minister who resigned over the law, argued that it violated constitutional privacy guarantees. The Karlsruhe court ruled that eavesdropping in private homes could only be ordered where there was a suspicion of a serious offense that could carry a prison sentence of more than five years.

Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung commented that the court was at last again trying to teach politicians and legislators the value of basic rights. It was doing so, the paper said, by using the example of the inviolability of the home and saying that there is a sacrosanct core area of private life that the state must respect.

The Express in Cologne wrote that the Karlsruhe ruling ought to be a source of satisfaction for former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who together with two Free Democratic party colleagues, lodged a constitutional complaint against it. The paper said the Karlsruhe court made it absolutely clear that if bugging is necessary, strict borders must be drawn and respected.

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