Bad winter weather and economic problems have pushed German unemployment up to a five-year high, according to German government data published on Thursday. This is just another worry for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Katya Adler reports from Berlin.
What a winter this is turning out to be for Gerhard Schroeder. Even his infamous charm has failed to thaw the icy reception he's receiving from all sides. Public opinion polls show that most Germans have little faith now in their Chancellor. He's raising taxes and cutting public spending and despite a repeated promise to boost the job market, unemployment continues to rise - it's up to 18.5 percent in eastern parts of the country. Mr Schroeder has warned Germans that financially this will be a tough year, yet at the same time his government looks likely to give in to demands for a wage increase by public sector workers.
This, say many Germans, in a cynical attempt to avoid a strike before crucial regional elections at the beginning of next month. So the voters here are not impressed - but then neither are Germany's European partners. On Wednesday the European Commission scolded Mr Schroeder for over-spending. It's given him until May to balance the books. On top of this, the media here are reporting a chill in Mr Schroeder's marital relations. Germany's Chancellor really is out in the cold.