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Germany

Schröder's Party Losing Members in Droves

Displeasure with the ruling Social Democratic Party's (SPD) course seems to be taking its toll among its members. In January, 10,000 Social Democrats handed back their membership cards for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's party. Inner-party dissent has been apparent since the SPD-led governing coalition initiated the chancellor's "Agenda 2010" package of controversial measures to reform the country's social, healthcare and pension systems. But Schröder's resignation as party head in mid-February may have put an end to the flight from the party. SPD deputy leader Kurt Beck told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper over the weekend he had sensed an improvement in the atmosphere among party members since Franz Müntefering, currently head of the SPD parliamentary group, was nominated SPD chief. The SPD now has around 640,000 members.