German Press Review: Schröder Punished at the Polls | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 14.06.2004
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German Press Review: Schröder Punished at the Polls

German newspapers on Monday focused on the results of the European parliament elections, which saw Chancellor Schröder's Social Democrats routed as well as on the continuing violence in Iraq.

The Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf wrote that Germans view Europe solely through national-tinted spectacles. It commented that voters wanted to punish Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for his social and economic reform package known as Agenda 2010, which is why his Social Democratic (SPD) party slipped to an all-time low. The daily said they (the SPD) cannot even call themselves the people’s party anymore. This disaster, according to the paper, proves that although Schröder stepped down as SPD leader earlier this year in order to create some distance between the party and the reforms, the strategy didn’t work.

Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung commented that 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 and he pushes for new debts in order to promote investment, which makes the public worry that their social system will collapse, the paper said. It 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.

Other German newspapers turned to the continuing violence in Iraq which resulted in the killing of two senior Iraqi government officials and a professor on the weekend.

Even though the Iraqi interim government hasn’t officially taken over power in the country yet, two of its members have already fallen victim to the insurgency, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The extremists don’t

respect the first sovereign government since Saddam Hussein any more than they did the American-appointed Governing Council before it. The paper concluded that the

government will only be acknowledged by the public once it begins to curb the violence and terror.

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung said the men and women in the interim government want to build a new Iraq, a country of peace, liberty and freedom. And these

courageous politicians, as well as thousands of allied soldiers, are risking their lives to realize this dream. But instead of fully supporting these people, the paper commented that anti-war countries like Germany and France are using their opposition to the war to win votes – and this, it wrote, is a slap in the face for Iraq’s reformers.