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German Chancellery Drowning In Shirts

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

09 December 2002

Since being re-elected to a second term, German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder's coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens, faced with a swelling deficit and poor tax collection, seems to have done nothing but increase taxes, including a new 15% CGT on share profits, higher social security contributions, cuts in a subsidy for homebuilders and an additional levy on heating oil.

The electorate is fighting back, though, with the lampooning Der Steuer Song (The Tax Song) at the top of the German pop charts for the fourth straight week, and the chancellery's shirt count topping 9,000.

The tax song was written by comedian Elmar Brandt, a Schroeder sound-alike, and has a chorus that goes: "I'm raising your taxes, elected means elected; you can't fire me now, that's the great thing about democracy."

The song's video has Schoeder depicted as a Spitting Image-type doll which ends by being crushed under a safe - but not before singing: "All you nerds have money buried somewhere, and I'll get it, I'll find it, wherever it is."

Mocking the Chancellor for his supposedly dyed hair, Brandt sings: "We could think about a bad-weather tax, or a hair-dye tax ... oh no, maybe not."

Schroeder himself is visibly losing patience with the campaign, and last week described Elmar Brandt as a freeloader and parasite.

The shirt problem is something else: the Chancellery has run out of room to store them (too many tax collectors?) and can't find a charity that wants them. Germans aren't short of a shirt or two, evidently.

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