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Schroeder Wins Confidence Vote in Parliament - 2001-11-16

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has won a confidence vote in parliament, after he put the future of his government on the line to ensure support for his proposal to send troops to the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan. Mr. Schroeder sought the confidence vote to overcome opposition from within his own coalition.

The German chancellor won approval for his proposal to contribute 3,900 troops to the anti-terrorism campaign.

The Bundestag, the German parliament, voted 336-326 in favor of the deployment.

But he did so by putting his own leadership at risk, making clear that a vote against the deployment would be a vote against him as the country's leader.

In remarks before the vote, Mr. Schroeder said he expected support from lawmakers in his own coalition. "A German chancellor," he said, "cannot take responsibility for his office, or for the general well-being of the community, if neither he personally, nor his policies have the support of his own side."

Mr. Schroeder could have relied on the votes of the Christian Democratic and Free Democratic opposition parties to ensure parliamentary support for contributing troops to the campaign in Afghanistan, but he chose not to.

Mr. Schroeder's Social Democrats and their coalition partner, the Greens party, are both divided between those who support German participation in military campaigns outside the NATO area and those who oppose the military campaign in Afghanistan on principle.

The Greens party has its roots in the anti-nuclear and pacifist movements of the 1970s and 1980s. Some of Mr. Schroeder's own Social Democrats have similar backgrounds. As it became clear that a few members of both parties planned to vote against sending troops, Mr. Schroeder could not have relied on a parliamentary majority from his coalition alone.

In the end, one Social Democrat and four Greens voted against the deployment, out of eight (Greens), who had originally threatened to do so.

Mr. Schroeder said the decision to deploy troops would show that Germany is a reliable ally and, in his words, "a full member of the international community of states."