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Germany Deadlocked Post Sept 18 Election; Could Leave Nuclear Phase-Out Untouched

A hotly contested election in Germany on Sept 18, 2005, will have repercussions for the eventual
elimination of nuclear power and the long-lived poison wastes generated by this ultimately toxic
technology. Conservative Angela Merkel has not
attained a majority, leaving the nation deadlocked as negotiations fray…..

Yes, Germany experienced perhaps the
most important election of any contended
worldwide in the year 2005. However, no
clear majority emerged
from the votes cast on September 18th,
with both leading candidates claiming
a mandate for leadership henceforth.

Meetings were arranged, but neither
the country’s probable first woman
Chancellor, conservative Angela Merkel,
nor ex-current Chancellor Gerhard Schrˆder
could come up with enough marbles
to step onto the governmental throne.

“”Differences of opinion between the two sides
were massive,” Merkel said after the
discussions, which were aimed at working
out how to end the debilitating political
stalemate caused by Sunday’s inconclusive
general election.”
as reported on the webpage,1564,1719068,00.html

“One proposal has been for the Christian
Democrats to join with the FDP and the
Greens in a coalition dubbed “Jamaica”
because the parties’ black, yellow and
green colors would match the Caribbean
nation’s flag.”

The Christian Democrats are/is Merkel’s
conservative party. FDP is the abbreviation
for the free-market liberal Free Democratic
Party that stands at the ready with Merkel
to run the nation in a coalition. The Greens
are environmentally monikerred, and have
been the party in coalition with Schroeder’s
Social Democrats running Germany until
this election.

A next meeting is arranged for Wednesday
the 28th of September to possibly
arrange a “grand coalition” of both the
leading parties, and their smaller other
supporting parties.

“A poll released on Thursday by the
Emnid institute showed 47 percent of
Germans would like to see Merkel lead
a grand coalition, against 44 percent for

Before her talks with Schrˆder’s party,
Merkel had held early discussions with
the Free Democrats. Bidding to keep alive
her ambition of becoming the country’s
first woman leader, Merkel said afterwards
that the Christian Democrats would not
accept the formation of a minority government.”

That means ruling with just the coalition she
has, currently constituting a minority.

Why was this election so important?

Because as ignoramuses claim that
“Nukes Are Green,” and our country
gives away $13 billion to the nuclear industry
to construct more nuclear plants, pretending
they are safe and wonderful, while
they spew out their radioactive poisons daily
into the water and the air from our 103-plus
nuclear facilities, Germany has in place the
arranged phase-out of their 24 nuclear plants.
How can they do that? you might ask.

Answer: They have all that windpower: 14,000 plus megawatts, equal to
fourteen 1000-megawatt nuclear plants, less
the inherent long-lived dangers of
nuclear waste, accidents, storage, terrorism.
And each year the amount of wind power
generation is growing, at an increasing rate of
over 1000 additional megawatts
of more windpower. Prime Minister Schroeder,
and his partyís coalition with the
Green party, set up the phase-out several years ago.

But there are economic problems in Germany, and Germans seem to be unsure about their
future. A month or so ago, it looked like current
Prime Minister Schroeder was definitely
on his way out. But after a debate with
Angela Merkel, a poll taken on September 9, 2005
showed that her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and sister party the Christian
Social Union (CSU) are down two percent
to 41 percent and their Free Democrats (FDP) allies
are steady at 7 percent. In other words, if you add up those two numbers, it is not a majority
at the present time. 48% is the total.

However, there were large numbers of voters that remained undecided as Germany went into
the last week of campaigning. Much of these were younger people.

Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party or “SPD” scored 34 percent, up three points,
in the September 9 poll, and his coalition partners, the Greens scored 7 percent, while the new
Left Party scored 8 percent. If you add these three numbers up, you would get
49%. Then, you should know that Schroeder
and his pre-election coalition insisted they would not
work with the new Left Party, made up of “former communists and other leftists
spearheaded by former German Finance
Minister Oskar Lafontaine, a Schroeder ally
turned enemy.”

That doinked the total for Schroeder
and the Greens down to 41%.

A curious thing is that Schroederís personal
popularity ranks “well ahead of his
rivals, with 53 percent of those surveyed saying they would prefer him
as Chancellor against 40 percent for Merkel,
although 54 percent are dissatisfied
with the current government.”

In another article quoted in the above paragraph, webpaged:

it is noted that “the election has so far
been fought mainly on economic issues,
with Merkel attacking the government for
mishandling jobs and neglecting
reform, and Schroeder accusing the
conservatives of wanting to dismantle
Germany’s welfare state.” But, the poll
taken reflects growing scepticism about
the radical tax reform proposals of Merkel’s
shadow Finance Minister Paul Kirchhof,
who wants to introduce a uniform flat
tax on all forms of income and cut an
array of subsidies and tax breaks.”

The fate of the nuclear power phase-out
is at stake here. Germany is the posterboy country
for elimination of nuclear power and its into-eternity bugaboos that threaten civilization.

Remember, here in the USA, 64% of Americans
polled in June 2005 by ABC and the Washington
Post, do NOT want any more nuclear plants
built in this country.

And then we could have disastrous consequences if
hurricane Rita had hit Houston with 2 dangerous
nuclear plants and their storage pools exposed
to 165 mile per
hour winds….luckily it didn’t happen. Otherwise
the whole state of Texas could have had gadds of contamination all the way to
Crawford, essentially for eternity….


Here is the more detailed NIRS Monitor article
from issue 628, of May 27, 2005 on the vagaries
of the nuclear phase-out in Germany:


After the disastrous May 22 election result for the ruling
Social Democrat/Green government in North
Rhine Westphalia, Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder
announced that general elections would be held
later this year. The German nuclear industry had,
however, already started preparations for the period
after the planned 2006 elections, anticipating a
change in government. With the prospect of a
Christian Democrat government, the nuclear
phase-out seems further away than ever.
(628.5691) WISE Amsterdam ñ

Germanyís phase-out plans (a result of
consensus talks) had long been
criticized by many. Anti-nuclear groups
alleged that the phase-out schedule
saved the nuclear industry by diffusing
the immense pressure for the
immediate closure of all plants.
Popular resistance fell apart when the
Green party, part of the coalition
government, defended the phase-out
and as a result, many Greens involved
with anti-nuclear groups stopped being
active on a local level. On the other
hand, many people felt that a phaseout
is better than nothing and were
satisfied with the SPD/Green government
achievements on the matter.
What most now fear is that, if the CDU
win the a general election, the party
would have time and opportunity to
manipulate public opinion to adopt
the ìnuclear is not so bad, since it
helps to combat climatic changeî view
before the public can seen that the
road to gradual phase-out is in fact viable.
The four utilities with nuclear power
reactors, E.On, RWE, EnBW and
Vattenfall Europe, were not
particularly disappointed with the
outcome of the consensus talks in 2000
or with the phase-out schedule. So far
after 5 years, just one reactor was shut
down, on May 11, as a result of the
phase-out plan; the 36 year-old 375
MW reactor at Obrigheim. Some
would claim it as the second reactor
closed due to the agreement but utility
operating the facility insisted that the
closure of Stade was for economical reasons alone.

Before the 2000 agreement, reactor
lifetimes were unlimited in Germany.
The industry agreed to limit lifetimes
(to an average for each reactor of
about 32 years) in exchange for a
government agreement not to interfere
with the routine operations of reactors
or otherwise take political decisions
that ëdiscriminatedí against nuclear
power. The SPD/Green government
passed it into law with an additional
amendment banning new nuclear
reactor construction in Germany,
making the agreement a de facto
phase-out law.
In the last five years, German utilities
have enjoyed the fruits of the
agreement. Smooth operations of
reactors without any hassle about
licenses and equally smooth license
procedures for transports; by June all
spent fuel for foreign reprocessing
would have been transported. So in
reality, the utilities now have more to
lose by, seemingly, continuing the
phase-out scenario.
In the past few months politicians
from the German opposition parties of
the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU)
and the Free Democrats (FDP), have
stated that they would ëreverseí the
phase-out agreement should they be in
a position to form a coalition after the
general elections. Of course the result
of an election can never be taken for
granted (in democratic countries that
is); in the 2002 general elections, the
SPD & Greens were expected to suffer a
defeat but remained in power despite
losing part of their following.
The utilities have been preparing for
the general elections scheduled for
2006 but now elections could be held
this autumn (September at the latest)
and the ruling government is expected
to be heavily defeated. Although not
yet certain, it is very likely that
elections will be held prematurely
because the German constitution does
not allow for such maneuvers. The
government and the Bundespr‰sident
must first agree on procedures to
circumvent the constitution before a
date can be set.
In May, the Deutsches Atom Forum
(German Nuclear Forum) gathered at
Nuremberg. Industry sources boasted
that ìthe way out of the phase-out will
be to extend it, not to overturn itî and
are making plans to apply for lifetimes
extensions for all 17 nuclear power
reactors soon after the elections. ìA 40-
year license would give us breathing
room to set up a procedure for
licensing for an additional 20-years as
in the USî, one executive told
Nucleonics Week. Such an amendment
process could happen in as little as six
years. According to the phase-out
schedule, five reactors are planned to
shut down (Biblis A & B,
Neckarwestheim-1, Brunsbuettel, Isar-
1, and Unterweser, about 5,500 MW
installed capacity) in the period 2007-
2010. By signing the agreement in 2000
the utilities effectively pledged not to
attempt a reversal of the phase-out.
They still claim that the position is
being honored, and view lifetime
extensions as unconnected with any
attempts reversing the phase-out.
Following the NRW elections, CDU
spokespeople have already stated that
they too would favor lifetime
extensions were they to form a
government after the general elections.
At the same time they stated that new
nuclear capacity in Germany is ìnot
imaginableî and Vattenfall Europe
CEO Klaus Rauscher has agreed with
this statement. Whether or not this is
just a strategic move to avoid stirring
anti-nuclear sentiments too much at
the moment remains to be seen. A
decision on new capacity in
unnecessary, especially not if lifetimes
of existing reactors are extended.
On Monday May 23, after the Sunday
elections, E.ON and RWE shares rose
and were top gainers of the German
blue-chip DAX index, with E.ON rising
3.4%, and RWE up 2.6%. As nuclearlinked
shares gained favor, solar
energy stocks suffered as the market
grew anxious that there would be
fewer subsidies should Schroeder be
defeated. SolarWorld shares plunged 10%.

Meanwhile another interesting case is
slowly surfacing. Top executives from
the utility EnBW did not take part in
the important German Nuclear Forum
meeting in May. EnBW officials have
stated several times over the last
months that they will continue to
follow the phase-out schedule and that
it will shut all its five ñ Obrigheim was
the first ñ reactors, even if there is a
shift in government policy. Chief
executive, Utz Claassen, said, ìWe
cannot start to take action against
something we agreed to as an industry,
and we will stand by that.î Local
politicians and officials from other
utilities happy EnBW did not attend
the Forum, claim that EnBW is taking
this position because it is in the
interest of its main shareholder EdF
(Electricite de France). There is the
suspicion that EdF is using EnBW to
sell French nuclear energy in Germany
and in order to facilitate that,
generating capacity in Germany has to decrease.

As another direct result of the May 22
elections, anti-nuclear groups are
demanding that the North Rhine
Westphalian government cancel
planned waste transports from the
Rossendorf nuclear research reactor to
the interim high-level waste storage
facility at Ahaus. The Red/Green
government of the state of NRW no
longer has a political mandate ëto
create irreversible factsí following the recent heavy election defeat, according to the groups.

Last year (in March 2004) the Christian
Democrat political leader in NRW
(Juergen Ruettgers) introduced a
resolution in the federal state
parliament requesting the construction
of an interim waste storage facility at
Dresden-Rossendorf and a halt to
transports to Ahaus while no longterm
solution exists for the storage of
spent fuel. Since Ruettgers will be the
next NRW prime minister (CDU won
the elections), the defeated NRW
WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 628, 27 May 2005 6
government, still officially ëin chargeí
for bureaucratic reasons, can do
nothing to change this. But even so, it
will not happen. From May 30, three
road transports (of in total 18 MTR-2
Castors) from Rossendorf to Ahaus
(600 kilometers) are due to take place.
In Ahaus 4,000 police officers will be
stationed during the three weeks
(approximately) that the transports will take.

One of the arguments against the
transport is the agreement (part of the
consensus) that radioactive waste
(ëspent fuelí) would be stored on-site
and would not be transported to
centralized interim facilities. But,
industry and authorities claim that a
research reactor is not a nuclear power
plant and thus the spent fuel does not
need to be stored on-site.

The fact that the Greens will soon
return to an opposition role in NRW,
will hopefully inspire people to again
become active in social and
environmental struggles, and to
protest against the coming Castor transports.

Sources: WISE News Communique 532,
27 June 2000; Nuclear Engineering
International, 26 April 2005;
Nucleonics Week, 12 & 19 May 2005;
Press release BI Ahaus, 23 May;
Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, 24
May; Reuters Planet Ark, 24 May 2005
(with thanks to Peter Diehl)
Contact: WISE Amsterdam

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