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19.09.2005 General News

Ghanaians join Germans to watch elections

By GNA

Accra, Sept. 19, GNA - Scores of Ghanaians mostly from the media fraternity on Sunday joined Germans resident in the country including Mr Peter Linder, the Ambassador, to watch counting of the German elections via a television.

A number of Germans Ghana News Agency interviewed described the elections as knife-edged that would push the Federal State into a political limbo as conservative opposition moves to a narrow win over ruling Social Democrats Party (SPD) of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Early results released on public television monitored in Accra put Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats Union (CDU) at between 35.2 per cent and 35.3 per cent, while the SPD was picked at about 34 per cent. CDU's coalition partners, Christian Social Union (CSU) had around 10.3 per cent, which prompted their supporters to erupt in jubilation at the Party's headquarters in Berlin.

Some of the Germans explained that results meant that Merkel was likely to become Germany's first woman Chancellor. The results also put the Greens, who were junior partners in the current government, at 8.2 per cent.

According to German political annalists nearly 62 million electorate voted in the polls after Schroeder forced through the election 12 months ahead of schedule in a bid to obtain a fresh mandate to reform Europe's biggest economy.

Merkel, a 51-year-old former physicist, hammered home her message that only the Christian Democrats could drive down a crippling unemployment rate of 11.4 per cent and get the stalled economy moving again.

The Political Experts told the GNA that Germany's European partners had long hoped for a strong economic recovery to help propel growth on the Continent.

They noted that the race was hard-fought and remarkably bitter by German standards, with Merkel accusing the Social Democrats of dirty tricks and lies and Schroeder charging the conservatives of planning to dismantle the country's cherished social welfare system. The Social Democrats had slashed the Christian Democrats' early lead in half in recent weeks and the charismatic Schroeder put in extra campaign speeches in a bid to sway undecided voters, reportedly about a quarter of the electorate just days before the polls. According to the experts Merkel has proposed creating jobs and driving economic growth with a programme of income tax cuts and labour market liberalisation that would go beyond Schroeder's controversial economic reform package known as Agenda 2010.

In an interview the German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Linder explained that the electoral law combines the advantages of the first-past-the-post system and proportional representation. Half of the members of the Bundestag (Parliament) are elected through th first-to-pass-the post in 299 constituencies, the other half on the basis of the party lists.

Elections watchers at the Goethe Institute were given traditional German treat and were served with assorted drinks, pastries and meat.

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