Industry Doesn′t Want Schröder | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 20.07.2005
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Industry Doesn't Want Schröder

For Germany's elite there can only be one person to lead the country forward: Angela Merkel. A nationwide business survey showed large dissatisfaction with the current government.


Schröder is becoming more isolated from the business community

Though President Horst Köhler, and maybe the country's highest court, have yet to decide whether Germany will hold early elections this Fall, Germany's management, political and business elite have already cast their vote.

Following comprehensive three-week survey between June and July, 68 percent of the country's elite favored Merkel as Germany's next chancellor. Only 27 percent backed Schröder. The Capital Elite Panel, sponsored by the business magazine Capital, also found that 92 percent of those polled favor the decision to hold early elections, with another 85 percent saying that a change at the top would give the economy a boost.

Business: SPD confused

The survey results, combined with a press conference by Germany's Industry Association BDI, gave the SPD and Green Party coalition government a clear signal that they were no longer wanted by the business community. BDI chief Jürgen Thumann lashed out at both the SPD and the Greens' election platforms on Tuesday.

"The SPD's election platform is a platform of inner conflict," said Thumann (photo).

Jürgen Thumann BDI

Jürgen Thumann has been BDI president since January of this year.

Schröder's SPD has tried to profile itself as the party that can balance the reforms necessary to rescue Germany from high unemployment and low economic growth rates with social responsibility. But Thumann said the party had failed, reserving special criticism for recent campaign promises to raise taxes for the rich and allow unemployment benefits to continue longer for older workers.

He called the Greens' economic concept a "smorgasbord of partly contradictory wishes and dreams.

"Does it make sense to call for the elimination of subsidies while at the same time asking citizens and companies to pay for expensive wind energy?"

CDU-CSU, FDP more realistic

The BDI chief nitpicked on the programs of the two opposition parties most likely to be running the country if early elections are held in September. But Thumann generally had praise for the Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Socialist Union, as well as their possible junior coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party.

The FDP can "give the country the necessary tailwind" to push the country forward. Germany's liberals are the most pro-business of the country's political parties, and Thumann clearly wished the CDU/CSU would follow.

55.Parteitag der FDP in Dresden: Guido Westerwelle

Guido Westerwelle's FDP could help push the country forward, according to industry heads.

He warned the Union parties against their plan to raise value added tax in order to close up budget holes opened by the government's high public spending, something the FDP has come out against as well. The CDU also didn't go far enough in lowering corporate taxes, according to Thumann.

Government needs courage

"I hope that they will find an acceptable solution in the end," Thumann said of the possible coalition partners.

Nevertheless, the Union has clearly understood the "reality of the situation."

"All in all, we expect the government -- with or without new elections -- to jumpstart the reform process," said Thumann. "It's possible to get increased value and more growth. It remains the only way we will be able to control unemployment. But many measures might be unpopular. That's why I say the parties need four things: a concept, courage, power and speed."

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