Schröder Denies Resignation Plans

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder denies widespread speculation that he is about to resign in the wake of the humiliating defeat in the September 18 elections.

Government Denies Resignation Rumors (Deutsche Welle)

While Germans wait for the announcement of a new government, speculation is rising about Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s resignation. Meanwhile, the opposition believes more and more in a grand coalition.

The surprising optimism following Wednesday’s talks between Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats (SPD) and the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) led by Angela Merkel has now been followed by further speculation about how the country will find a way out of its political paralysis. The rumor mill in Berlin is churning out speculation that Schröder would rescind his claims of being chancellor for a third term.

The Berlin-based tabloid B.Z. splashed the question on its front page: “Schröder Resignation on National Holiday — Monday Last Day?” Politicians also believed that Schröder would soon resign so that a new German leader can finally be named.


The grand coalition as the final solution to the inconclusive elections on September 18 became more and more likely after Angela Merkel and the Christian Democrats exited talks with their preferred partners, the free-market liberal Free Democrats (FDP) on Thursday. “The possibility or likelihood of a coalition with the SPD is much higher than the other constellations,” Merkel told reporters. In addition, she said there was a “very high possibility” of success of creating a coalition with the Social Democrats.

Guido Westerwelle, whose FDP came out as the surprise third-strongest party with almost 10 percent of the vote, thought that result would be more than enough to accompany the conservatives into power. But he now appears to be coming to terms with the likelihood that the FDP will remain in the opposition. “It seems in all probability that we’re heading for a grand coalition,” he told reporters, adding that Schröder should now step aside for the good of the country.

Grand coalition is an odd outcome but has always seemed the most likely. As odd a marriage as CDU-SPD would be, it far beats cobbling together a government based on several fringe parties.


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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.