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Business

Industry Head Urges Schröder to Press on with Reforms

Michael Rogowski, head of the Federation of Germany Industry (BDI), has urged Chancellor Gerhard Schröder not to abandon his welfare and labor market reforms aimed at reviving the country's moribund economy despite the worst-ever defeat for the chancellor's party in European Parliament elections. Support for the SPD slumped from 38.5 percent in 2002 to 21.5 in Sunday's elections. Analysts say voters turned away from Schröder's Social Democrats (SPD) largely as an expression of dissatisfaction with the party's raft of unpopular reforms that have included new charges for visits to the doctor, curbs on unemployment benefits and increases in health insurance costs. "We're still confining ourselves to fixing the existing system," Rogowski said at the BDI's annual meeting in Berlin, which Schröder attended, "but in some cases we need completely new systems." Turning back from the reform course was not an option, he said. Schröder himself has said he will continue pushing ahead with reforms, although an April survey found that two-thirds of voters consider his policies socially unjust.

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