Edmund Stoiber's landslide reelection as Prime Minister of Bavaria boosts his clout in the contest to dominate the center-right on a national level. He is likely to advocate a confrontational course with center-left Chancellor Gerhard Schröder -- in contrast with his rival Angela Merkel, who is chairman of the Christian Democratic Union. Merkel has called for compromises with Schröder on issues such as tax cuts and loosening labor markets. Stoiber, who nearly unseated Schröder in 2002, opposes some subsidy cuts and has favored state bailouts of industry. On Sept. 22, Stoiber declared that Schröder had "lost touch with the people." The Stoiber-Merkel rivalry could further delay economic reform.
Edited by Rose Brady