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German leaders on Friday scrapped a proposal to create an extra working day by moving the national holiday marking German reunification to a Sunday, bowing to criticism that the government had lost respect for the nation's history.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder initially backed the plan, launched by members of his Cabinet, but he retreated later Friday, saying it would "obviously get no majority" in parliament.

The proposal, presented the week before the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was part of a broader government effort to boost the economy and rein in the budget deficit.

But it was assailed by opposition conservatives, labor leaders and members of Schroeder's coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. One conservative lawmaker called the government unpatriotic.

The suggestion was to shift Germany's Oct. 3 Unity Day to the first Sunday in October, making sure it would not fall on a workday. Unity Day marks the merger of West and East Germany on Oct. 3, 1990.

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