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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
'Germany needs a Thatcher'
Margaret Thatcher
Does Germany need Thatcherism?
Germany's recent economic problems have prompted much soul searching - and helped make a bestseller of a book suggesting that a Frau Thatcher may now be the answer.

Historian Dominik Geppert argues in his book 'Maggie Thatcher's Radical Cure - a recipe for Germany?' that there are parallels between Britain in the 1970s and Germany now.

Such is the plight of the country's economy that radical solutions are being talked about in terms not dissimilar to the language used nearly 30 years ago in the UK, he argues.

"My feeling, my impression, is that everyone who would've claimed we need some kind of Thatcherite reforms in Germany a few years ago would've been laughed at," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Now the claims are taken more seriously and I think that in itself is remarkable.

"What has changed I think is the awareness of how acute our economic and political crisis has become especially after the general election of 2002.

"In some ways you can say that the consensual style of politics in Germany may have reached a dead end."

Mr Geppert is at pains to stress that he is not a "politician developing a reform agenda" but rather a historian "analysing what I see".

"And I see the same kind of debates going on in Germany about consensus and how it has reached its end that were going on in Britain 30 years ago."

Answer within?

Labour MP Gisela Stuart - who was born in Germany - said that when she arrived in Britain it was the era of the three-day week and there were arguments then about the way forward.

"It took about seven years before we had a recognition we had a problem in Britain, before the political establishment came up with an answer," she told Today.

"But what I want to say is that Germany may find an answer within itself."

Ms Stuart suggested that the liberal economic policies pursued in the 1960s by chancellor Ludwig Erhard might be one solution.

"Where I think Germany will find it more difficult than Britain in the 1970s is that Germany starts with a long period of economic prosperity and it may well have to get worse in Germany before there's a recognition in the population that change is needed," she said.

Baroness Thatcher was Conservative prime minister of the UK from 1979 until late 1990 when she was replaced by John Major after a leadership challenge.

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