Source Pravda.Ru

German highest court approves September 18 election

Germany's highest court has ruled that early elections can go ahead as planned on September 18, rejecting complaints against the early vote from two lawmakers.

The Federal Constitutional Court's decision removed the final obstacle to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's drive to hold elections a year ahead of schedule. Campaigning is already in full swing.

"The complaints are rejected," said presiding judge Winfried Hassemer.

"It was like deciding between the plague and cholera, between a government crisis and new elections" that were constitutionally uncomfortable, Hassemer added.

Struggling with 11.5 percent unemployment, Schroeder is seeking a new mandate for his reforms that have angered many of his own supporters. Polls currently indicate conservative Angela Merkel, who is promising tougher reforms, is headed toward becoming the country's first woman chancellor, reports CNN.

According to Bloomberg, in the latest pre-election poll, the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, led the Social Democrats by 41.8 percent to 27.9 percent.

The survey of 1,400 voters by polling company Allensbach for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, carried out Aug. 8- 18, put the CDU's preferred coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, on 8.7 percent, with the Greens on 8.1 percent and the new Left Party on 10.3 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

That would give the CDU and FDP a majority in the lower house, adding to their majority in the upper house which has allowed them to block or delay legislation put forward by Schroeder's government.

Parties that gain more than 5 percent in a German election are awarded seats in the lower house in proportion to their share of the vote. The upper house is made up of representatives of the governments of Germany's 16 states, most of which are CDU-run.

Merkel, 51, has pledged cheaper energy, lower taxes and cuts in labor costs to help spur growth and dissuade companies from moving jobs abroad.

In 1983, the last time the court was called on to make a similar ruling, it upheld the then-president's decision to allow an early election even though the chancellor, Helmut Kohl, had a comfortable majority.

It is the fourth time in post-war German history that elections have been brought forward. The last time was in 1990 in response to German reunification.

"There is only one thing that really matters: that the general election will take place in about three weeks," said Andreas Rees of German bank HVB Group.

"Otherwise, a gridlock in German politics would have occurred with severe negative consequences for financial markets and the general economic outlook."

In pushing for early elections, Schroeder said he needed a fresh mandate to continue his progra In 1983, the last time the court was called on to make a similar ruling, it upheld the then-president's decision to allow an early election even though the chancellor, Helmut Kohl, had a comfortable majority.

It is the fourth time in post-war German history that elections have been brought forward. The last time was in 1990 in response to German reunification.

"There is only one thing that really matters: that the general election will take place in about three weeks," said Andreas Rees of German bank HVB Group.

"Otherwise, a gridlock in German politics would have occurred with severe negative consequences for financial markets and the general economic outlook."

In pushing for early elections, Schroeder said he needed a fresh mandate to continue his program of economic reforms.

He argued that he lacked support in parliament and within his own party to push on with measures that have restructured Germany's welfare state but failed so far to make a serious dent in unemployment, which stands near a post-war high.mme of economic reforms.

He argued that he lacked support in parliament and within his own party to push on with measures that have restructured Germany's welfare state but failed so far to make a serious dent in unemployment, which stands near a post-war high, informs Reuters.