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Germany

Yearbook 2005

2005 GermanyGermany. The Social Democratic Government Party SPD continued its crusade when the state elections were first held in Schleswig-Holstein in February and then in North Rhine-Westphalia in May. The latter defeat was particularly noticeable because the state is traditionally a social democratic stronghold where the SPD has ruled for 39 years. The result led to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder surprisingly requesting new elections. He got what he wanted; the government lost a vote of confidence and President Horst Köhler announced new elections. In September, voters had to say theirs, a year before the general election.

According to countryaah, the Christian Democrats appointed party leader Angela Merkel as chancellor candidate. A new alliance on the left, Die Linke, was also formed when former SPD leader Oskar Lafontaine resigned from the party in protest of "anti-socialist politics". He and other defunct Social Democrats joined forces with the former East German Communists in the PDS.

2005 Germany

The Christian Democrats led big in opinion polls during the summer; it looked as if CDU and the Bavarian sister party CSU could get their own majority. But the support then dropped so sharply that even the CDU/CSU looked like a loser when the election results were clear, despite being the biggest. The Christian Democrats took home just over 35% of the vote, while the SPD, after a hefty promotion at the end, got just over 34%. The liberal FDP went ahead and gained almost 10%, but that was not enough to form government with the Christian Democrats. The Green Party got 8%, which meant that there was no basis for a new red-green coalition either. Neither of the two major parties was interested in support from Die Linke, who took home nearly 9%.

The currency output thus gave a locked position; both Schröder and Merkel wanted to form a government. After a month, however, their parties agreed to rule together in a so-called large coalition. The lengthy coalition negotiations that followed seemed to break down when the SPD's chairman Franz Müntefering suddenly resigned due to an internal dispute. But the Social Democrats quickly chose Matthias Platzeck as new leader and Müntefering continued to participate in the negotiations.

In November, two months after the election, Angela Merkel took over as Germany's first female Chancellor. She was also the first head of government from old East Germany, a region that received extra political weight because the new SPD leader Platzeck also came from there. Schröder was not a member of the government, but the SPD held half of the government posts, including the heavy foreign, finance and justice ministerial posts.

Merkel explained when taking office that the government's main task was to decontaminate the state's poor finances and reduce unemployment. In February, the number of unemployed had exceeded 5 million, the highest figure since the beginning of the 1930s, but had fallen to just over 4.5 million in November.

The government program promised a steel bath without major ideological considerations: The Christian Democrats had to accept delayed tax cuts and instead tightened taxes for high-income earners, while the Social Democrats had to agree to restrictions on labor law. A decision to raise VAT from 16 to 19% from 2007 has drawn criticism from both business and trade unions, and few have cheered on the message that the retirement age is gradually increasing from 65 to 67 years.

In August, Moroccan Mounir Motassadeq was sentenced to seven years in prison for belonging to a terrorist organization. However, he was cleared of suspicions of having participated in planning the terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, 2001, a crime he was convicted of in 2003.

In October, the reconstructed Baroque church Frauenkirche in Dresden was inaugurated. The church had been a ruin after the 1945 bombing.

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