Stoiber U-turn on foreign workers


GERMANY: Germany's conservatives presented proposals to crack down on immigration yesterday in the hope of recapturing the lead ahead of Sunday's general election.

The seven-point plan, "Less Immigration, More Integration", would cut the numbers of workers allowed into the country under new immigration legislation and dismisses the idea of a multicultural German state.

"We want to reduce immigration from non-EU countries to a compatible level," said Mr Günther Beckstein, interior minister of Bavaria.

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said yesterday the proposals to unpick his government's immigration bill showed the "helplessness" of the opposition. "We already have an immigration bill that steers immigration."

Mr Fritz Kuhn, Green Party leader, said: "I think it is shabby of the opposition to build a campaign on the backs of foreigners."

Mr Edmund Stoiber, the conservative chancellor candidate, said during a television debate last week that the highly-emotive matter of immigration was not a suitable election issue.

However, he signalled a change of tack last Friday after opinion polls showed the government ahead of the conservatives for the first time in months. "Germany cannot handle any more immigrants" with four million unemployed, he told parliament.