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German Press Review: Taking a Lesson from Bavaria

The landslide victory for conservatives on Sunday in the German state of Bavaria continued to dominate op/ed pages of Germany’s newspapers Tuesday, with many blaming Schröder’s reform course for his party's epic loss.

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Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber could have a greater say in German reform plans following his election win on Sunday.

Sunday’s election outcome not only makes it clear that Edmund Stoiber is definitely in the running in the next bid to knock Chancellor Gerhard Schröder out of office, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but it also puts him way ahead of the rest of the field.

The strong showing Stoiber’s party, the Christian Social Union, wrote the Offenbach-Post, will now give the opposition a better hand in influencing Chancellor Schröder’s reform agenda.

On the subject of reforms, the Mannheimer Morgen wrote that Schröder was wrong in saying his party’s poor showing was the result of voters’ fears about his reform agenda. The opposite is true, the paper wrote. "What voters are looking for from Berlin is for it to announce reforms -- and to stick to them," the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, the editors of the Westfälischer Anzeiger opined that the SPD lost big in Bavaria not because the party is trying to do something new – e.g. reforms – but "because it was going about doing so in the wrong way."

Returning to the subject of fear, Schröder is the one who’s afraid, posited the Wiesbadener Kurier. "He’s afraid," the paper wrote, "that if he goes ahead with his reform agenda, his own party, the Social Democrats, will no longer be seen as being social."

The editors of the Leipziger Volkszeitung agreed. "The thing that should alarm the SPD the most," the paper wrote, "is that Germans no longer view the SPD as the party of social justice, which for decades had been its core issue." Nor does Schröder understand, commented the Sächsische Zeitung, "that if you want to see reforms, you have to give people the feeling that they are fair." Hamburg’s Morgenpost went a step further, writing that what the SPD needs to do is "find itself and its identity."

And that struggle may take some time if the Nordkurier’s assessment of the situation within the SPD is even half accurate. "When looking at all of the finger-pointing currently going on within the SPD, one doesn’t often see this little solidarity from a party, which in the past banked on such things as solidarity."

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