Gerhard Schroeder tries to hold his own

Germany looks set for a general election a year earlier than scheduled. Chancellor &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Gerhard Schroeder has called for such a poll in September after his Social Democratic Party suffered a crushing electoral defeat Sunday in its stronghold of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Social Democrats were booted out of office in Germany's richest and most populous state after 39 years in power. Mr. Schroeder's push for labor and social welfare reforms and the industrial state's high unemployment were seen as the main reason for his party's defeat.

In what analysts see as a risky move for the chancellor, Mr. Schroeder reacted quickly and said he would ask President Horst Koehler to call a national election scheduled for September 2006 a year early, reports VOA News.

According to Washington Times, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, shaken by an election defeat on Sunday in his party's stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that he would seek to hold a general election a year ahead of schedule as he was no longer certain that the public backed his economic reforms. The state is home to nearly one in four Germans.

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