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Learning English - Words in the News
19 September, 2005 - Published 12:45 GMT
Germany's election parties meet
poster in German election

Political parties in Berlin are negotiating after Sunday's general election failed to produce a clear winner. Both Chancellor Schroeder's Social Democrats and the main opposition Conservatives are hoping to lead the next government. This report from Ray Furlong:

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Meetings are now under way at the headquarters of Germany's four main parties as Berlin buzzes with speculation. Usually, it's at least clear who the next chancellor will be. But this time, both main candidates say they want the job.

The Conservative candidate, Angela Merkel, is fighting for her political life after one of the worst results in her party's history. Her critics in the party will seize on this, although for now, it's presenting a united front. A senior Merkel aide said they would start negotiations this week with other parties. There were two possibilities, he said; a coalition with the Liberals and the Greens, or a grand coalition with Chancellor Schroeder's Social Democrats.

But Mr Schroeder has said he wants to remain chancellor. One Social Democrat MP said the party's current ruling coalition with the Greens should be expanded to include the Liberals. A further complicating factor is that more than two hundred thousand voters in Dresden will cast their ballots on October 2, because a candidate died during the campaign. This could allow the Social Democrats to draw level with the Conservatives.

Listen to the words

under way
happening, in progress

buzzes with speculation
talks excitedly, trying to guess what might happen next

fighting for her political life
working hard to survive as a political party leader

seize on
quickly focus on, quickly draw attention to

it's presenting a united front
the (political) party is giving the appearance of working together and being united

a person who helps; here, a person employed to help a government minister

a coalition
a union of political parties for a special purpose, usually for a limited period of time

A further complicating factor
another complication, or problem

cast their ballots
vote; 'a ballot' is a vote

to draw level with
here, to gain the same number of votes as

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