President: Electoral Jockeying Must Not Overshadow Governing | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 14.03.2009
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President: Electoral Jockeying Must Not Overshadow Governing

German President Horst Koehler called on the political leaders not to let campaigning ahead of September's election influence the government's ability to take action during the ongoing financial crisis.

Tight group of horses in a race

Germany's political parties are in a close race to see who governs the country after September

As Germany's political parties jockey for position in the run-up to parliamentary elections in September, the president has said the current grand coalition, made up of conservative Christians and the Social Democrats, cannot put campaigning ahead of governing the country.

"There is no leave of absence for the responsibility of governing," he told the daily Ruhr Nachrichten on Saturday, March 14. "As long as the coalition is presiding, it has to go respectably about its work."

Horst Koehler gives a speech

Koehler's duties are largely symbolic, but he has engaged the government at times

Pointing to the current global economic crisis, Koehler said the people of Germany had a right to demand their leaders work in the best interest of the country -- not the political parties of which they are members.

The president also said opposition parties should present their alternatives to the government's plans rather than denouncing them out of hand.

Though none of the parties in the ruling coalition is thrilled with the partners it's had to work with since the last election in 2005, Koehler said the government has not fallen into disarray.

"The grand coalition has had to make some compromises but it has shown itself to be capable of acting," he said.

In a separate interview, Koehler added that he saw a growing gap between the public and the politicians meant to serve it. "A rift has grown between the politicians and citizens," he said in the Passauer Neue Presse on Saturday. "Simply listening to the people more pays off."

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