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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
German papers hedge election bets
Edmund Stoiber addressing an election rally
Edmund Stoiber hopes his day has come

As the German electorate prepares to go to the polls, many of the country's newspapers are unwilling to put money on the success of either candidate.

"Election-drama! All to fight for until the end!" reads the front-page headline in the mass-circulation Bild.

In an article entitled "High excitement before the elections," the Berliner Zeitung reports that all opinion polls currently place incumbent Gerhard Schroeder and his rival Edmund Stoiber neck and neck in the race for the chancellorship.

The Tageszeitung says that both men are equally confident of victory.

"Iraqi crisis, Mobilcom crisis, stock market crisis - outside it is hectic - but in the chancellor's office Gerhard Schroeder is sitting completely composed," the paper says.

It adds: "Edmund Stoiber is equally certain of victory, stating 'we are through'."

Policy change

A commentary in Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung highlights what it sees as the failings of both sides' election campaigns.


Suddenly Schroeder is once again the doer

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

It says that Mr Schroeder's four years in office have led to over four million unemployed, an increasing number of bankruptcies and declining buying power for consumers.

But it goes on to say that the floods in eastern Germany and the threatening Iraqi crisis have exposed the failings of Mr Stoiber's election campaign strategy.

"Suddenly Schroeder is once again the do-er, the flood helper, the peace chancellor".

The commentary concludes that for the situation to improve in Germany it is not enough only to change the chancellor.

"Policies must also change," it says, adding that this applies for Mr Schroeder and Mr Stoiber alike.

Hot topic

Economic issues and unemployment may have dominated the campaign so far, but there is a general consensus that, in the final run-up to polling day, Berlin's relationship with Washington has become the hot topic.


The Schroeder government has sacrificed the good relationship with the USA in order to hold on to power

Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung

The Berliner Zeitung says the last hours of the campaign will be dominated by the controversy surrounding Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin.

Earlier in the week, Mrs Daeubler-Gmelin was alleged to have likened US President George W Bush's political methods over Iraq to those of Adolf Hitler.

A commentator in Die Welt echoes the view of the Berliner Zeitung.

He believes that the scandal caused by the justice minister could affect the way the electorate votes.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, the worsening relations with the USA over the past weeks have not happened by chance.

George Bush meets Gerhard Schroeder on a visit to Germany
No longer such good pals?

"The Schroeder government has sacrificed the good relationship with the USA in order to hold on to power," the paper says.

It accuses Mr Schroeder of "giving away something that took decades to earn and will be difficult to win back".

Despite these election tactics the Frankfurter Rundschau highlights a positive aspect of the campaign.

"Reactionary populist parties, which came to the fore in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Austria, received no attention here," it says.

Election fatigue

But at least one commentator has not been consumed by election fever.

Writing in the tabloid Bild, Sven Gosman says he is just glad that finally the election day has almost arrived.

"Seldom during an election campaign has there been so much trickery, lies and playing with fire," he says.

This, Mr Gosman believes, could lead to voter apathy in tomorrow's polls.

But he urges Germans to vote, because "those who don't will certainly not be heard".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Gerhard Schroeder

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20 Sep 02 | Media reports
19 Sep 02 | Media reports
19 Sep 02 | Media reports
18 Sep 02 | Media reports
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