Schroeder Policies Cut German Unemployment, Merkel Minister Says

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s policies helped cut unemployment in half since they were started 10 years ago, German Christian Democratic Union Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen told N-TV television.

“The bottom line is that the labor-market reforms paid off” even though the Social Democrat Schroeder was defeated by CDU leader Angela Merkel in 2005, von der Leyen said. “The idea was that everybody must have a chance to find work and we’re making sure there is work.”

Schroeder quit as SPD leader in 2004 while remaining chancellor amid growing tensions in the party over his labor market changes that cut benefits for the long-term unemployed and raised pressure on job seekers to accept available work even if they were qualified to take better-paid jobs.

Merkel ruled from 2005 to 2009 with the SPD as her junior coalition partner. Since 2009, she’s been in coalition with the pro-business Free Democratic Party. If elections were held now, Merkel would again have to rely on a coalition with the SPD, according to a Forsa poll for RTL television published today.

Support for Merkel’s CDU and its Christian Social Union Bavarian sister party held at 36 percent while her FDP coalition partner fell one point to 4 percent. That’s below the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament under German election law. The FDP won 14.6 percent in the 2009 election.

The Social Democrats held at 26 percent and the opposition Green party, the SPD’s ally under Schroeder, was unchanged at 13 percent. The Left party rose 1 percentage point to 7 percent and support for the Pirate Party, which isn’t represented in parliament, held at 9 percent.

Forsa surveyed 2,501 people from Aug. 6-10 for the poll. The margin of error is a much as 2.5 percentage points.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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