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Hessian premier Roland Koch to resign

DDP/DPA/The Local · 25 May 2010, 18:11

Published: 25 May 2010 10:12 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 May 2010 18:11 GMT+02:00

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The 52-year-old Christian Democrat (CDU) said he would stay in office until August 31.

"I specifically picked out this point in time," he said at a press conference in the state capital Wiesbaden. "Politics is a fascinating part of of my life, but politics isn't my life."

Though many were caught off guard by the announcement, Koch said Chancellor Angela Merkel bad been aware of his plans, if not the exact timing of his departure, for the past year.

Koch said he planned to seek work in the business sector, but would only decide what position to pursue after leaving office. Besides resigning as state premier, Koch will also give up his leadership of the Hessian Christian Democrats and his deputy chairman position of the national CDU.

"That's a huge loss for the CDU, the state of Hesse and the federal government," Michael Meister, a Hessian Christian Democratic MP, told the website of Der Spiegel magazine. He called Koch a "great politician with unusually clear policy positions."

A conservative hard-liner, Koch has become a polarising figure in his state in recent years. Premier since 1999, voters punished his Christian Democrats during an election in 2008 after he started a controversial campaign with racist overtones against young immigrants. His image was first seriously tarnished for his involvement in a party slush fund scandal in 2000.

“Roland Koch’s resignation marks the departure of someone who was never afraid to campaign with prejudices against foreigners or demands to punish welfare recipients,” said Jürgen Trittin, the parliamentary leader of the Green party.

Lately Koch made headlines by demanding deep cuts in education and childcare funding in Hesse and the rest of Germany, eliciting the ire of the chancellor. He has long been considered an inner-party rival to Merkel, but she played down their contentious relationship on Tuesday.

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"Roland Koch was always a good, friendly advisor," said Merkel. "We will continue to call on his counsel in the future."

Hessian Interior Minister Volker Bouffier is reportedly in line to replace Koch as state premier.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:00 May 25, 2010 by twisted
Finally !!!!
11:29 May 25, 2010 by pepsionice
Hessens generally give the guy plus points. His party did lose in 2008 but the SPD couldn't get its act together, and Koch & the CDU came back to form the government. It's a bit of a different state than people imagine. There is a strong base around Wiesbaden and Frankfrut for the SPD but outside of those metropolitan areas....it's probably stronger for the CDU.
21:18 May 25, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
I sometimes wonder why so often the expression Nazi is used on these posts. I assume most of the writers were not even alive during Hitler's life. For those of us who were, it is strange and worrying for us to see how history has been politically manipulated since 1945.

Nevertheless, although we had many reasons to dislike the "Brown shirts," one thing is certain - they meant what they said !

Not only Koch, but most German politicians of the so-called democratic parties have a habit of preaching what they themselves do not pratice.

I am pleased to see him go, but sorry that Merkel, Westerwelle and all the others like them, do not follow his example.
23:09 May 25, 2010 by c-jay
Haleluya GOD is grate.

less Motheridiot Nazi in german.
13:50 May 26, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Germany's answer to Sarah Palin? A populist, racist ultra right-wing governor who quits in the middle to a term. Good riddance.
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