After German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder criticized the conservative Christian Democratic party for joining public protest against labor market reforms despite the fact that they voted for them, leading CDU politicians have come out in public support of the reforms, otherwise known as Hartz IV. The head of the party, Angela Merkel, said the merging of social and welfare benefits was necessary so "the German economy could -- on its own steam -- grow." She called the reforms the "first step". Hamburg's mayor Ole Beust concurred. "We cannot leave the ruling party standing out in the rain," he said. "We wanted these reforms and a populist-inspired retreat will only damage the party and the effort."