Alliance 90/The Greens
Alliance 90/The Greens simply Greens, is a green political party in Germany, formed in 1993 from the merger of the German Green Party and Alliance 90. The party focuses on ecological and social sustainability. Since January 2018 Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck have co-led the party. In the 2017 federal elections the Greens came sixth with 8.9% of the votes and 67 out of 709 seats in the Bundestag. The Green Party was founded in West Germany as Die Grünen in January 1980, it rose out of the anti-nuclear energy, peace, new left, new social movements of the late 20th century. Grüne Liste Umweltschutz were the names of some branches in Lower Saxony and other states in the Federal Republic of Germany; these groups took part in several elections. Most of them merged with The Greens in 1980; the West Berlin state branch of The Greens was founded as Alternative Liste, or Alternative Liste für Demokratie und Umweltschutz in 1978 and became the official West Berlin branch of The Greens in 1980. In 1993 it renamed to Alliance 90/The Greens Berlin after the merger with East Berlin's Greens and Alliance 90.
The Hamburg state branch of the Green Party was called Grün-Alternative Liste Hamburg from its foundation in 1982 until 2012. In 1984 it became the official Hamburg branch of The Greens. In the 1970s, environmentalists and peace activists politically organised amongst thousands of action groups; the political party The Greens was founded January 13, 1980 in Karlsruhe to give this movement political and parliamentary representation. Opposition to pollution, use of nuclear power, NATO military action, certain aspects of industrialised society were principal campaign issues; the Greens originated from civil initiatives, new social movements of the protests of 1968, but from the conservative spectrum. Important figures in the first years were – among others – Petra Kelly, Gert Bastian, Lukas Beckmann, Rudolf Bahro, Joseph Beuys, Antje Vollmer, Joschka Fischer, Herbert Gruhl, August Haußleiter, Luise Rinser, Dirk Schneider, Brigitte Heinrich, Rolf Stolz, Baldur Springmann, it was at this congress, that the Greens lay their ideological foundations, proclaiming the famous Four Pillars of the Green Party: Social justice Ecological wisdom Grassroots democracy Nonviolence In 1982, the conservative factions of the Greens broke away to form the Ecological Democratic Party.
Those who remained in the Green party were more pacifist and against restrictions on immigration and reproductive rights, while supporting the legalisation of cannabis use, placing a higher priority on working for LGBT rights, tending to advocate what they described as "anti-authoritarian" concepts of education and child-rearing. They tended to identify more with a culture of protest and civil disobedience clashing with police at demonstrations against nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, the construction of a new runway at Frankfurt airport; those who left the party at the time might have felt about some of these issues, but did not identify with the forms of protest that Green party members took part in. After some success at state-level elections, the party won 27 seats with 5.7% of the vote in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, in the 1983 federal election. Among the important political issues at the time was the deployment of Pershing II IRBMs and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles by the U.
S. and NATO on West German soil, generating strong opposition in the general population that found an outlet in mass demonstrations. The newly formed party was able to draw on this popular movement to recruit support. Due to the impact of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, to growing awareness of the threat of air pollution and acid rain to German forests, the Greens increased their share of the vote to 8.3% in the 1987 federal election. Around this time, Joschka Fischer emerged as the unofficial leader of the party, which he remained until resigning all leadership posts following the 2005 federal election; the Greens were the target of attempts by the East German secret police to enlist the cooperation of members who were willing to align the party with the agenda of the German Democratic Republic. The party ranks included several politicians who were discovered to have been Stasi agents, including Bundestag representative Dirk Schneider, European Parliament representative Brigitte Heinrich, Red Army Faction defense lawyer Klaus Croissant.
Greens politician and Bundestag representative Gert Bastian was a founding member of Generals for Peace, a pacifist group created and funded by the Stasi, the revelation of which may have contributed to the murder-suicide in which he killed his partner and Greens founder Petra Kelly. A study commissioned by the Greens determined that 15 to 20 members intimately cooperated with the Stasi and another 450 to 500 had been informants; until 1987, the Greens included a faction involved in pedophile activism, the SchwuP short for Arbeitsgemeinschaft "Schwule, Päderasten und Transsexuelle". This faction campaigned for repealing § 176 of the German penal code, dealing with child sexual abuse; this group was controversial within the party itself, was seen as responsible for the poor election result of 1985. This controversy re-surfaced in 2
2005 German federal election
Federal elections were held in Germany on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th Bundestag. This became necessary. Following the defeat of Schröder's Social Democratic Party in a state election, Schröder asked his supporters to abstain from the Bundestag motion, knowing the motion would fail and thus triggering an early federal election; the opposition Christian Democratic Union and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, started the federal election campaign with a 21% lead over the SPD in opinion polls. Many commentators expected the Christian Democrats to win a clear electoral victory and that CDU leader Angela Merkel would become Chancellor, forming a government with the Free Democratic Party and displacing the governing SPD-Green coalition. However, the CDU/CSU lost momentum during the campaign and won only 1% more votes and four more seats than the SPD. Exit polls showed that neither coalition group had won a majority of seats in the Bundestag, leading to a hung parliament situation.
Both parties lost seats compared to 2002, as did the Greens, while only the Left Party made significant gains. Both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory, but the formation of a new government required careful negotiations. On 10 October 2005, officials from the SPD and the CDU/CSU indicated that negotiations between the two had concluded and that the participating parties would form a grand coalition with Angela Merkel as Chancellor; when the Bundestag met on 22 November, 397 CDU/CSU and SPD Bundestag members duly voted for Merkel. Chancellor Schröder orchestrated the loss of the Bundestag motion of confidence with the aim of triggering an early federal election following the defeat of his SPD in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia on 22 May 2005; the victory of the CDU in North Rhine-Westphalia gave that party, together with the FDP, a working majority in the Bundesrat, the federal legislature's upper house. Early federal elections in Germany can only take place after the dissolution of the Bundestag by the President of Germany, since the constitution forbids the Bundestag to dissolve itself.
The President can dissolve it. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled in a similar situation in 1983 that Chancellors may not ask the President for the Bundestag's dissolution for the sake of their desire for an early election. Many observers agree that Schröder met this requirement, since a number of left-wing SPD delegates had expressed great reservations about Chancellor Schröder's labour reform and welfare reform programme. However, only days before the vote, the coalition had passed a number of bills with no dissenters, indicating strong support for the Chancellor within the coalition. After urging members to abstain on the vote, Chancellor Schröder purposely lost a vote of confidence in the Bundestag on 1 July by 296 to 151. On 21 July President Horst Köhler dissolved the Bundestag and paved the way for the early election on 18 September; the Green member of parliament Werner Schulz – who, in a much-cited speech on the day of the motion of confidence, had criticised the deliberate loss of the motion as "farcical" and likened the Bundestag's obedience to Schröder to behaviour typical of the German Democratic Republic Volkskammer – and the SPD member of parliament Jelena Hoffmann jointly filed a constitutional complaint in the Federal Constitutional Court.
The Court rejected the complaint on 25 August, ruling as valid the President's decision to dissolve the Bundestag, thereby giving the green light for the early elections on 18 September and ending speculation that Schröder would have to step down or lead a "lame duck" government. A small number of members of minor political parties filed similar complaints: the Court rejected them during the week before the election; these figures constitute the final results published by the Bundeswahlleiter. 77.7% of voters cast ballots, down 1.4% from 2002. This included a number of invalid votes as follows: 850,072 in the constituency section, 756,146 in the list section; the CDU and the CSU sit together as one caucus in the Bundestag and do not compete against each other. The CSU runs only in the state of Bavaria; these results include nine "overhang mandates" for the SPD and seven for the CDU. These results compare the results for the Left. Party with those of the PDS in 2002; these results include the delayed result from the Dresden-I seat.
The CDU/CSU nominated Angela Merkel for Chancellor, the first time in German history that one of the two larger parties has nominated a woman for this position. The CDU presented a platform involving increasing the pace and scope of economic deregulation in Germany and pursuing cuts in income tax and public spending; the CDU began the campaign with a 21% lead over the SPD and confidence in Merkel's victory led the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, to meet with her ahead of Chancellor Schröder during a visit to Berlin in June. The SPD had the goal of maintaining the current deregulation agenda, they added to their election program some minor corrections such as broadening the financing base of the healthcare system and the proposal of a 3% additional tax for people with annual incomes above 250,000 euro
Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer is a German politician of the Alliance'90/The Greens. He served as Foreign Minister and as Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005. Fischer has been a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s, according to opinion polls, he was the most popular politician in Germany for most of the government's duration. Following the September 2005 election, in which the Schröder government was defeated, he left office on 22 November 2005. In September 2010 he supported the creation of the Spinelli Group, a europarliamentarian initiative founded with a view to reinvigorate efforts to federalise the European Union. Fischer was born in Gerabronn in Baden-Württemberg, the third child of a butcher, whose family had lived in Budakeszi, for several generations. Fischer's family had to leave Hungary in 1946 after it was occupied by the Soviet Union, ethnic Germans were persecuted and expelled by the authorities, his nickname Joschka is derived from diminutive of Joseph.
He was brought up Catholic and served in his childhood as an altar boy in his parish in Oeffingen. Fischer dropped out of high school in 1965, started an apprenticeship as a photographer, which he quit in 1966; because Fischer never gained a school-leaving certificate, he never attended a university or a college. He neither did compulsory military service nor the alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors, because he failed his physical examination due to poor eyesight. In 1967, he became active in the German student movement and left-wing movement 1968, first in Stuttgart and after 1968 in Frankfurt am Main. For his regular income, Fischer took several low-wage jobs, such as working in a left-wing bookstore in Frankfurt. During this period, he began attending university events, including lectures organized by left-wing revolutionary students by Theodor W. Adorno, Jürgen Habermas and Oskar Negt, he studied the works of Marx and Hegel and became a member of the militant group, Revolutionärer Kampf.
Fischer was a leader in several street battles involving the radical Putzgruppe, which attacked a number of police officers. Photos of one such brawl in March 1973, which were to haunt Fischer, show him clubbing policeman Rainer Marx, to whom he publicly apologized. Fischer is a close friend of Daniel Cohn-Bendit. In 1971, he began working for the car manufacturer Opel and attempted to organise his fellow workers for the coming communist revolution; this resulted in his dismissal from the company after six months. Fischer continued making a living with unskilled work while continuing his activism, he worked as a taxi driver from 1976 to 1981 and in a bookstore in Frankfurt. In the Deutscher Herbst of 1977, Germany was rattled by a series of left-wing terrorist attacks by the Red Army Faction and Revolutionary Cells. According to Fischer's own account, witnessing these events the kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the Entebbe hijacking, made him renounce violence as a means for political change.
Instead, he became involved in the new social movements and in the newly founded Green Party in the state of Hesse. In May 1981, the Hessian Secretary of Commerce Heinz-Herbert Karry was murdered with a firearm that in 1973 had been transported in Fischer's car, along with other weapons stolen from an American army base. Fischer maintained he had given the car to the terrorist Hans-Joachim Klein for the purpose of having Klein fit it with a new engine. Only had Fischer learned that his car had been used to transport stolen weapons; as Foreign Minister, Fischer apologised for the violence of his Putzgruppe days, without disassociating himself from the radical movement. Some critics continue to charge that Fischer was the leading figure of a 1976 discussion that led to the use of Molotov cocktails in an upcoming demonstration in support of RAF member Ulrike Meinhof. Fischer was arrested on 14 May 1976 as a suspect in the Molotov cocktail attacks on police, but was released after two days. Fischer stated.
The firebombing of policeman Jürgen Weber's police car left Weber with burns over 60% of his body. From 1983 to 1985, Fischer was a member of the Bundestag for the Green party, his stint in federal parliament saw him engage in a frank and confrontational debating style, exemplified by an incident on 18 October 1984, when he addressed Richard Stücklen vice president of the parliament, with the words: "If I may say so, Mr. President, you are an asshole". In 1985, Fischer became Minister for the Environment in the Landtag of Hesse in the first governmental Red-Green coalition between the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Greens. Fischer caused a stir; these sneakers are now part of the shoe collection at the German Leather and Shoe Museum in Offenbach, Hesse. Fischer expressed his thoughts frankly in the periodical of the Hessian Green party "Stichwort Grün". In the edition of October 1989—one month before the fall of the Berlin Wall—he penned an article with the heading: "Der Wiedervereinigung die Schnau
Frank-Walter Steinmeier is a German politician serving as President of Germany since 19 March 2017. He was Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2017, Vice-Chancellor of Germany from 2007 to 2009, he was chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2016. Steinmeier is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, holds a doctorate in law and was a career civil servant, he was a close aide of Gerhard Schröder when Schröder was Prime Minister of Lower Saxony during most of the 1990s, served as Schröder's chief of staff from 1996. When Schröder became Chancellor of Germany in 1998, Steinmeier was appointed Under-Secretary of State in the German Chancellery with the responsibility for the intelligence services. From 1999 to 2005 he served as Chief of Staff of the Chancellery. Following the 2005 federal election, Steinmeier became Foreign Minister in the first grand coalition government of Angela Merkel, from 2007 he additionally held the office of vice chancellor.
In 2008, he served as acting chairman of his party. He was the SPD's candidate for chancellor in the 2009 federal election, but his party lost the election and he left the federal cabinet to become leader of the opposition. Following the 2013 federal election he again became Minister for Foreign Affairs in Merkel's second grand coalition. In November 2016 he was announced as the candidate of the governing coalition consisting of his own party and the CDU/CSU for President of Germany, thus became the presumptive elect as the coalition held a large majority in the Federal Convention, he was elected as President by the Federal Convention on 12 February 2017, winning 74 percent of the vote. Steinmeier belongs to the right wing of the SPD, known as moderates; as chief of staff he was a principal architect of Agenda 2010, the Schröder government's controversial reforms of the welfare state. His lenient policies towards countries such as Russia and China have earned him criticism both in Germany and internationally, he has been criticized for prioritizing German business interests over human rights.
Steinmeier was born in West Germany. Although his full name is Frank-Walter, to those who know him well, he goes by the name Frank, his father, a carpenter, was affiliated with the Church of Lippe. His mother, born in Breslau, came as a refugee from a Lutheran part of Silesia during the flight and expulsion of Germans after World War II. Following his Abitur, he served his military service from 1974 until 1976, studied Law and Political Science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, where Brigitte Zypries was a fellow student. In 1982, he passed his first exam, 1986, he passed his second state examination in Law, he worked as a scientific assistant to the professor of Public Law and Political Science at Giessen University, until he obtained his doctorate of Law in 1991. His dissertation explored the role of the state in the prevention of homelessness. Steinmeier has one daughter. On 24 August 2010, he donated a kidney to his wife, Elke Büdenbender. In 2015, Steinmeier served as best man at the wedding of Rüdiger Grube and Cornelia Poletto in Hamburg.
He enjoys jazz, is an avid football fan. He is a Reformed Protestant and an active member of the Reformed Bethlehem congregation in Berlin-Neukölln. Frank-Walter was baptized into his father's church as a youth. Steinmeier became an Adviser in 1991 for Law of Communication media and media guidelines in the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony in Hanover. In 1993, he became Director of the Personal Office for the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Gerhard Schröder. In 1996, he became the Undersecretary of State and Director of the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony. Steinmeier was appointed in November 1998 as undersecretary of state at the office of the chancellor following Schröder's election victory, he replaced Bodo Hombach as the head of the office of the chancellor in 1999. During this period Steinmeier was one of the advisors to Schröder, he was crucial in securing a red-green majority in parliament for Schröder's contentious "Agenda 2010" of economic reforms. Because of his effective management beyond the spotlight of politics, he was nicknamed Die Graue Effizienz —a pun on Graue Eminenz, the German for éminence grise.
Under Schröder, Steinmeier was responsible for co-ordinating Germany's intelligence services. In 2003, he supported Schröder in his controversial decision to forge a coalition with Russia and France against the U. S.-led war against Iraq. Meanwhile, he approved the decision to install a German intelligence officer in the Qatar-based office of General Tommy Franks, the American commander of the U. S. invasion in Iraq, who passed on to the United States information being gathered in Baghdad by two German intelligence officers operating there. In 2004, Steinmeier participated in diplomatic negotiations settling on compensation payments with Libya for victims of the 1986 terrorist bombing of the LaBelle disco in Berlin. A major controversy during Steinmeier's term as chief of staff was the imprisonment of a German-born Turk, Murat Kurnaz, in Guantánamo Bay from 2002 until August 2006. Steinmeier denied during a parliamentary inquiry in March 2007. Instead, he claimed that Berlin had feared Kurnaz was a threat and should go to Turkey, not Germany, if released.
Only after Merkel's election was Kurnaz brought back to Germany. On 22 November 2005, after the
Christian Social Union in Bavaria
The Christian Social Union in Bavaria is a Christian-democratic and conservative political party in Germany. The CSU operates only in Bavaria while its larger counterpart, the Christian Democratic Union, operates in the other fifteen states of Germany, it differs from the CDU by being somewhat more conservative in social matters. The CSU is considered an effective successor of the Weimar-era Catholic Bavarian People's Party. At the federal level, the CSU forms a common faction in the Bundestag with the CDU, referred to as the Union Faction; the CSU has had 46 seats in the Bundestag since the 2017 federal election, making it the smallest of the seven parties represented. The CSU is a member of the International Democrat Union; the CSU has three ministers in the cabinet of Germany of the federal government in Berlin, including party leader Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of the Interior while party member Markus Söder serves as Minister-President of Bavaria, a position that CSU representatives have held from 1946 to 1954 and again since 1957.
Franz Josef Strauß had left behind the strongest legacy as a leader of the party, having led the party from 1961 until his death in 1988. His political career in the federal cabinet was unique in that he had served four ministerial posts in the years between 1953 and 1969. From 1978 until his death in 1988, Strauß served as the Minister-President of Bavaria. Strauß was the first leader of the CSU to be a candidate for the German chancellery in 1980. In the 1980 federal election, Strauß ran against the incumbent Helmut Schmidt of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, but lost thereafter as the SPD and the Free Democratic Party managed to secure an absolute majority together, forming a social-liberal coalition; the CSU has led the Bavarian state government since it came into existence in 1946, save from 1954 to 1957 when the SPD formed a state government in coalition with the Bavaria Party and the state branches of the GB/BHE and FDP. Before the 2008 elections in Bavaria, the CSU perennially achieved absolute majorities at the state level by itself.
This level of dominance is unique among Germany's 16 states. Edmund Stoiber took over the CSU leadership in 1999, he ran for Chancellor of Germany in 2002, but his preferred CDU/CSU–FDP coalition lost against the SPD candidate Gerhard Schröder's SPD–Green alliance. In the 2003 Bavarian state election, the CSU won 60.7% of the vote and 124 of 180 seats in the state parliament. This was the first time; the Economist suggested that this exceptional result was due to a backlash against Schröder's government in Berlin. The CSU's popularity declined in subsequent years. Stoiber stepped down from the posts of Minister-President and CSU chairman in September 2007. A year the CSU lost its majority in the 2008 Bavarian state election, with its vote share dropping from 60.7% to 43.4%. The CSU remained in power by forming a coalition with the FDP. In the 2009 general election, the CSU received only 42.5% of the vote in Bavaria in the 2009 election, which constitutes its weakest showing in the party's history.
The CSU made gains in the 2013 Bavarian state election and the 2013 federal election, which were held a week apart in September 2013. The CSU remained in government in Berlin, they have three ministers in Angela Merkel's current cabinet, namely Horst Seehofer, Andreas Scheuer and Gerd Müller. The CSU forms after Bavarian state election, 2018 on October 14, 2018 a new government with partner Free Voters of Bavaria; the CSU is the sister party of the Christian Democratic Union. Together, they are called The Union; the CSU operates only within Bavaria and the CDU operates in all other states, but not Bavaria. While independent, at the federal level the parties form a common CDU/CSU faction. No Chancellor has come from the CSU, although Strauß and Edmund Stoiber were CDU/CSU candidates for Chancellor in the 1980 federal election and the 2002 federal election which were both won by the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Below the federal level, the parties are independent. Since its formation, the CSU has been more conservative than the CDU.
The CSU and the state of Bavaria decided not to sign the Grundgesetz of the Federal Republic of Germany as they could not agree with the division of Germany into two states after World War II. Although Bavaria like all German states has a separate police and justice system, the CSU has participated in all political affairs of the German Parliament, the German government, the German Bundesrat, the parliamentary elections of the German President, the European Parliament and meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia; the CSU has contributed eleven of the twelve Ministers-President of Bavaria since 1945, with only Wilhelm Hoegner of the SPD holding the office. List of Christian Social Union of Bavaria politicians Politics of Germany Alf Mintzel. Die CSU. Anatomie einer konservativen Partei 1945-1972. Opladen. Christlich-Soziale Union – official site Christian-Social Union Christian-Social Union of Bavaria
Federal Social Court
The Federal Social Court is the German federal court of appeals for social security cases cases concerning the public health insurance, long-term care insurance, pension insurance and occupational accident insurance schemes. Trial courts for these cases are the Sozialgerichte. Appeals against decisions of these courts are heard by the Landessozialgerichte, before the cases may wind up at the Bundessozialgericht; the Bundessozialgericht is located in the city of Kassel. Media related to Federal Social Court of Germany at Wikimedia Commons Official homepage
1998 German federal election
Federal elections were held in Germany on 27 September 1998 to elect the members of the 14th Bundestag. The Social Democratic Party emerged as the largest faction in parliament, with its leader Gerhard Schröder becoming Chancellor. Since German reunification on 3 October 1990, the unemployment rate in Germany had risen from 4.2% to 9.4% in 1998, with the Federal Labor Office registering more than 4 million unemployed. The unified Germany had to fight economic and domestic difficulties as it participated in the project of European integration. Most people blamed the centre-right coalition government of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the Free Democratic Party for the economic difficulties. Longtime Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government was regarded by many as not having implemented the unification after eight years, in view of the mass protests in many eastern German towns due to job losses and social welfare cuts; the 1998 campaign began with both the SPD questioning who would lead their parties.
There had been rumours that Helmut Kohl would resign and allow Wolfgang Schäuble to take the reins of the CDU but these rumours were rendered obsolete when Kohl announced in April 1997 that he would seek the chancellorship for a sixth term. The two contenders for the SPD nomination were Oskar Lafontaine, the party's chairman, Gerhard Schröder, Minister-President of Lower Saxony. On 1 March 1998, Schröder led the SPD to a huge victory in the Lower Saxony state election, gaining an unusual absolute majority for the second time and receiving the SPD nomination for federal chancellor. Schröder had announced he would withdraw his bid for the nomination if he received below 42 percent of the popular vote. In the 1998 general elections, Schröder received 47.9 percent. Following this election Lafontaine withdrew his bid and Schröder was inaugurated in the May 1998 convention. For the SPD, Schröder offered a new face for the party, he gave the party a new vigor, one, lacking in the CDU after Kohl proclaimed his nomination.
Many in the CDU questioned. The CDU campaign was based on the reputation of Kohl. One of the CDU's main slogans was'Safety, not Risks.' "Kohl exploited his familiarity and experience, as well as his status as Europe's longest serving head of government." The SPD on the other hand ran the campaign using strategies developed in the United States and the United Kingdom. The SPD set up election headquarters and introduced'rapid rebuttal units' not unlike those used by Bill Clinton in his successful presidential bid in 1992; the SPD avoided direct attacks at Kohl but rather focused on their message of a “new center".’The FDP had ridden on the coattails of the CDU, was disapproved in the polls. With the SPD well ahead in the polls, many of the voters from the CDU had less incentives to vote for the FDP; the FDP was having trouble projecting a coherent platform to voters. The Greens too were having issues concerning their platform; the two factions in the Greens, the fundamentalists and the pragmatists, had problems settling on their platform since the founding of the Green party.
The major issue of the 1998 campaign was unemployment. In 1996, the unemployment rate in Germany surpassed the government's "limit" of 4 million unemployed people. Both parties blamed high labor costs, high taxes and the high welfare costs as the causes of the problem. During the campaign, Schröder used this issue against Kohl calling him'the unemployment chancellor.' Unemployment was worst in the former East Germany. While the national rate stood at 9.4 percent, former East Germany was suffering with unemployment at 20 percent. Many in the former East Germany blamed Kohl for the slow economic recovery. Another issue at hand were Germany's welfare reforms. While the CDU/CSU had offered proposals to reduce benefits in healthcare and pensions, the SPD controlled Bundesrat secured the passage of the bill; the proposed bill offered tax cuts that were to benefit the rich, something the SPD opposed. While Kohl continually pushed the issue of European integration, the issue fell short from voters' minds.
Schröder, on the other hand ignored the issue. Many voters in Germany had other concerns besides the European Union. Toward the end of the campaign, polls placed the CDU/CSU and FDP coalition in a tie with the SPD and Green coalition. Despite these polls, the final numbers told a different story; the SPD-Green coalition won an unexpectedly large victory, taking 345 seats and earning a strong majority in the Bundestag—the first centre-left absolute majority in post-World War II Germany. The SPD won 40.9 percent of the vote, due to an increase of 4.5 percent from 1994. The CDU/CSU-FDP coalition was mauled, it was cut down to 288 seats. The CDU/CSU was hammered. Germany's mixed-member proportional system, in which a slate of statewide delegates are elected alongside the electorate delegates, softened the blow somewhat, so the CDU/CSU only suffered a net loss of 49 seats, it was still the CDU/CSU's worst defeat ever. By contrast their junior coalition partner, the FDP, saw their vote hold up well and netted a loss of just 4 seats.
A new government was formed by a coalition between the SPD and the Greens, with the SPD's Gerhard Schröder as chancellor and Greens leader Joschka Fischer as vice-chancellor and foreign minister. It was the first Red-Green coalition government at the federal level in Germany, as well as the first purely centre-left government in post-World War II Germany. Helmut Kohl stepped down as chairman of the CDU, as did C