Schröder Loses Confidence Vote; Early Election Is Likely - New York Times: "Mr. Schröder , gambling that a quick election is the only way to break Germany's political stalemate and rescue his own faded fortunes, watched somberly from his seat as lawmakers heeded his call to vote against the coalition that has governed Germany since 1998. The carefully orchestrated defeat allowed him to petition the German president to dissolve Parliament, which would set the stage for elections in September, a year earlier than scheduled. 'Without a new mandate, it is impossible to continue with my policies,' he said before the vote. 'If we want to continue with the reforms, and we must, we need to seek a new mandate through elections.'"
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Germany's Constitution makes it difficult to dissolve Parliament, largely to avoid the kind of instability that plagued the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933. There has been one prior confidence vote - called by Helmut Kohl in 1982 - in which the chancellor conspired to lose.