No Takers, E. German Seller of Distressed Businesses Quits
The man in charge of selling East Germany’s troubled factories and businesses resigned today after finding too few investors willing to buy them.
The resignation of Reiner Gohlke became public just hours after Foreign Minister Markus Meckel also resigned. Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere said he will not replace Meckel but will himself assume the duties of the nation’s senior diplomat.
Meckel stepped down after his party, the Social Democrats, voted Sunday to leave De Maiziere’s foundering governing coalition. He was the fifth minister to leave the government in a week.
The huge fissures in the nation’s first freely elected government plunged it deeper into a crisis fueled by economic problems and ferocious battles among parties seeking to win elections for a united German government.
The political infighting has increasingly appalled a populace preoccupied with rising food and fuel prices and skyrocketing joblessness.
“I don’t even know what both parties want,” said Thomas Wollenburg as he and his wife, Andrea, pushed their two young children in strollers to an unemployment office in East Berlin.
Wollenburg said he was among 50 workers laid off from his construction firm two weeks ago.
Both the conservative Christian Democrats of De Maiziere and of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and the left-leaning Social Democrats in both German states, accuse each other of using East Germany’s economic problems for political gain.
The Social Democrats voted to leave the coalition Sunday after De Maiziere fired four Cabinet members last week, including the agriculture, finance and economics ministers. The party contended that De Maiziere unilaterally fired the ministers to protect his own party’s political fortunes in the face of the economic problems.