[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Election strains German coalition
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (right) walking past Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of the Greens
Mr Schroeder (right) wants a distinctive SPD election platform
Germany's ruling Social Democrats (SPD) are distancing themselves from their Green coalition allies as the country gears up for an early general election.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, stung by a defeat for his SPD in the key state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has shunned any joint platform with the Greens.

In an election "everyone tries to win the most votes possible against every other opponent," he told Die Zeit.

His words in the newspaper interview were echoed by other SPD leaders.

SPD Vice-Chairman Kurt Beck said "it won't be a question of Red-Green, but of the SPD".

And the SPD's Saarland chief Heiko Maas said the SPD must "have a very independent profile in this short campaign".

Bitter blow to SPD

The SPD has shared power with the Greens since 1998.

CDU leader Angela Merkel
The CDU's Angela Merkel might become the first woman chancellor
Mr Schroeder plans to hold a confidence vote in parliament by 1 July - the first step in forcing an early general election.

If his government loses the vote, parliament will be dissolved and elections held by mid-September.

Mr Schroeder said the SPD's drive to be distinctive in the general election was "not a rejection of the constellation [with the Greens] in which we have worked so successfully together".

The SPD had governed North Rhine-Westphalia for 39 years before its defeat by the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Commenting on the impending election campaign, Mr Schroeder told Die Zeit he would like a "very personalised debate, based on the two main candidates".

He is still ahead of CDU leader Angela Merkel in opinion polls, but his party is trailing well behind the CDU.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Voters in North Rhine Westphalia give their views




SEE ALSO:
Call for elections: Full text
22 May 05 |  Europe


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific