Jackson Janes, executive director of the Johns Hopkins American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, a high-level think tank in Washington, D.C., says that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder could be unseated in the upcoming German elections on Sept. 22 by a conservative candidate from Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber.
If that happens, Germany would be shifting to the right as many other European countries coping with similar problems have done in recent elections.
"Given the increasing number of contentious issues plaguing German-American relations, such a shift in Berlin could have important consequences for Europe and for Washington, D.C.," says Janes.
Stoiber, head of the government of Bavaria since 1993, squared off against Schroeder in the first-ever televised debates of two chancellor candidates on Aug. 25. Both sides declared victory but whether the many undecided voters in Germany were swayed in either direction remains uncertain. Another debate is scheduled for Sept. 8.
When elected four years ago, Social Democratic Party leader Schroeder pegged his leadership on building the economy and decreasing unemployment and formed an alliance with the Greens. But with nearly 4 million Germans out of work and the German economy slumping, he is vulnerable. Stoiber represents a conservative state and a conservative party coalition which, under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, held power for 16 years.
"The agenda for most Germans is shaped by domestic concerns: unemployment, immigration, education and, now, the recent destructive floods that devastated portions of eastern Germany. Foreign policy plays a lesser role," Janes says. "But whoever is chancellor will still face the uncertainties of possible war in Iraq, the Middle East, and other challenges."
For insight into the German election, consider Janes as a source. He speaks both English and German and will be in Germany covering events in the days leading up to the vote. He can be reached in Washington, D.C., at 202-332- 9312 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janes recently gave his expert analysis. Listen to the RealAudio interview at www.jhu.edu:8080/ramgen/news_info/realmedia/janes.rm.
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