Bundestag opens job center for Merkel's defeated allies

BERLIN Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:04pm EDT

A man walks in the lobby of the former faction rooms of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the building of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A man walks in the lobby of the former faction rooms of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the building of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, September 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's labor office set up shop in parliament on Wednesday to advise hundreds of Free Democratic Party employees cast adrift by Sunday's election, which left the FDP unrepresented in the Bundestag (lower house) for the first time since 1949.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner was booted out of parliament when it missed the 5 percent threshold for seats. The FDP has served in more governments than either of the two biggest parties, the conservatives and Social Democrats.

But the outcome of the latest election was bad news for the free-market party's 93 lawmakers, including five cabinet ministers, and for their 650 staffers.

The queue to talk to the 30 unemployment agency advisers sent to parliament stretched down a hallway, where glum people filled out forms and, asked about job prospects, shook their heads.

"It can't get much worse than this," said a 32-year-old FDP staffer who declined to give his name. "We can put all our work from the past four years through the paper shredder."

He said FDP workers had received dozens of emails mocking their fate since the election, "but the computers are being turned off in the next few days anyway".

Andreas Ebeling, spokesman for the labor office, said many FDP people could network to find work with non-governmental organizations or in political and business consultancy roles.

Failing that, he said, there might be job opportunities with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), who boosted their share of the vote and will have 74 more seats in the lower house - presuming Merkel finds a new governing coalition partner.

(Reporting by Sophie Duvernoy; Editing by Stephen Brown and Mark Heinrich)

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