Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Euro-Vote Stuns Most Leaders, but Germans Make Kohl's Day Parliament Vote Deals Blows to British and Spanish Leaders

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Euro-Vote Stuns Most Leaders, but Germans Make Kohl's Day Parliament Vote Deals Blows to British and Spanish Leaders

Article excerpt

THE scene was the party headquarters of the Christian Democrats, the senior partner in Germany's governing coalition. The occasion was the European Parliament election.

Rapturous applause greeted German Chancellor Helmut Kohl when he appeared to say his thank-yous and give his assessment of Sunday's vote. For a while he just stood at the podium as the party faithful broke into a chant of "Helmut, Helmut." A smug grin turned into a broad smile on his face. "I am very, very satisfied," he said.

Mr. Kohl had good reason to be euphoric. Written off by many just a few months ago as a politician destined for defeat, Kohl's chances now look better than ever that he will become Germany's longest-serving chancellor in the postwar era.

Although the purpose of Sunday's vote was to elect members of the European Parliament - the European Union's mostly ceremonial assembly - German politicians saw it as a test-run for Germany's federal elections in October.

In that case, the Christian Democrats (CDU), along with their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union, may win by a comfortable margin. Almost 39 percent of voters in the Euro-vote cast ballots for the CDU, compared with about 32 percent for the Social Democrats, the main opposition party.

For the CDU, the Euro-vote capped a stunning reversal of fortune. In recent months the party often lagged far behind the Social Democrats in public opinion polls. Now, with the German economy picking up again, voters are returning to the CDU.

"We're No. 1 again. There can't be any better signal than that," Peter Hintze, the Christian Democrats' campaign manager said, speaking about the party's prospects in the October election.

Germany was not the only country in the 12-nation EU in which the domestic implications of the Euro-vote loomed large.

In both Spain and Britain, Sunday's poll was seen by many as a referendum on incumbent governments: Both Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and his British counterpart John Major were dealt serious blows.

In Spain, the opposition conservatives outpolled Mr. Gonzalez's Socialist Party, which has recently been hit by several corruption scandals. …

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