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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
German voters' views: Rhodes Barrett
MEET THE PANEL
Rhodes Barrett
Name: Rhodes Barrett
Age: 60
Lives: Berlin
Works: Translator
Current voting intention: SPD

I will vote tactically for the SPD in this election.

I had switched to the Greens in recent elections after years of voting SPD but I don't think they will get enough votes to have a role in any coalition this time.

I could not vote for the conservative CDU as I am a natural left-leaning person and I am also gay and they are opposed to gay marriage.

The likely outcome will be a grand coalition between the CDU and SPD, with Angela Merkel as chancellor.

That would have the advantage of excluding the unspeakable FDP, and basically both parties will have to follow the same reform programme.

The SPD will bring a left-leaning influence into a government led by a conservative party - the CDU.

A vote for the Greens, who've done this country an immense amount of good in the social and environmental fields, would be a lost vote this time round.

GERMAN VOTERS' VIEWS

Schroeder may become foreign minister in a new grand coalition government, or he may choose to become an elder statesman.

The problem for Schroeder was he was more keen on reform than his own party, which kept blocking his policies.

Issue number one, two and three in this election as far as I am concerned is unemployment.

The government has not made any significant dent in the high unemployment figures.

Turkish membership of the European Union has also been an issue, and I would be in favour of Schroeder's view that there should be further negotiations on this.

This has been an extremely tightly fought campaign - I can never remember an election like it.

There is a real sense that people want to get out to the polls, more than ever before.

But I feel many will register their frustration in the form of a protest vote against Schroeder and the SPD.

Send us your reaction to Rhodes' views using the form below.


Your comments:

I am glad to hear that many German voters maintain a balanced view of their political situation, as does Mr Rhodes Barrett. I think it is very dangerous when political parties start speaking of their country being a 'special case' or in any case in a 'special crisis'. Although I sympathise with voters like Lukas who feel a sense of economic doom, I must say that having travelled across Germany I did not feel that the economic situation of Germany was all that horrific, if you open your eyes to the situation of the rest of the world or even the rest of Europe. This remains an extremely prosperous, productive and industrialised nation. Though I understand that some standards may be sometimes endangered, the starting point is so high that German voters ought to have more optimism. Like all other Europeans, we should get down to work and build on the extraordinary wealth that we have established in the past 50 years, rather than concentrate so much on what we feel we have lost.
Guido, London, UK

Lukas has brought up a number of important issues and shown that the left does not seem particularly able to reform, although come it must. Like him, I would tend to vote FDP, in which case I would be the leftwing of the party. As much as I would put my faith in the economic reform of a Black and Yellow coalition, however, I cannot countenance their moral leadership. The "Kinder statt Inder" campaign, and other such cheap slogans from the likes of Roland Koch and Stoiber, make me cringe! Why can't the right ever take the high road?
Frank, Outremont (Montreal), Canada

I'd hope he'd reconsider voting for either the Greens or the New Left parties. The idea of a CDU/Free Democrats coalition is a terrible idea for the Germans - see what that did to the United States under the Republicans, if you want to know what it would look like. The Greens stand for the sort of things this voter finds important - why vote for a useless "strategic" vote if that only gets you a Party that didn't live up to your needs (the SDP) or openly doesn't want you? (CDU) The New Left stand the possibility of being radical enough to hold whatever coalition partner they form with to the fire of social reform, sexual union reform, and economic reform. A vote for either Green or New Left is a vote for change, if you want it.
CT Blake, Spring, TX, USA

The situation in Germany is much worse than the public dares to acknowledge. In a perfect world, there would hardly be any area of the economy and society untouched by drastic change in the form of far-reaching reforms in the next decade. However, Mr Rhodes' comments clearly show that he - like so many Germans - still has not understood this fact. If he had, he would not consider voting for Mr Schroeder, a lukewarm reformer who was barely able to push through even the tentative reforms in place now - against the expressed will of much of his fellow SPD members. With the SPD having lurched further to the left even before this campaign got into full swing, his isolation has now turned into a fully blown incapacity to implement any of the necessary reforms ahead.

The country, politicians and populace alike, has turned a blind eye to reality. When he talks about the Green Party "having done this country an immense amount of good" he fails to understand that the Greens have done nothing but spent ever scarcer tax payers' money on one-sided projects reflecting their narrowly environmentalist, ideologically tainted, world view. Mr Rhodes and his Green well-doers fail to realize that the very money spent on these environmentalist sand castles (the truly unspeakable "Atomausstieg" and the "Oosteuer" being the most prominent) has to be generated by an economy almost completely neglected by the party in the past.

My vote on Sunday goes to the "unspeakable" FDP, which seems to be the only party not catering to the narrow interests of their grassroots base (because they don't have one) and who are advocating a change towards less reliance on an ever feebler government sector and who have by far the best ideas for economic reform of any of the parties in this election. Incidentally, it is also the only party led by an openly gay politician who favours gay marriage. Something else that Mr. Rhodes has failed to understand.
Lukas, Bonn, Germany

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