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Dirk Harmann


Why did Kohl win?


From Socialist Review, No. 180, November 1994.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This autumn’s German general election was proposed to be a turning point in German politics. But since August this year the situation has crucially changed. The opinion polls suddenly showed a 10 percent lead for the ruling CDU led by Kohl. Since 1982 when Kohl became chancellor the number of people living below the poverty line has doubled to 4.6 million. Even the churches, normally a close ally of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have criticised this inequality inside society.

So what are the reasons for chancellor Kohl’s victory?

  1. The first reason is a huge media campaign in favour of Kohl, organised by Leo Kirch (comparable with Rupert Murdoch in Britain).
  2. A slight economic recovery which ‘shows successful government policy’. But this boom only means an increase of the bosses profits without creating new jobs.
  3. A polemical anti-socialist campaign against the left wing parties which is reminiscent of the height of the cold war.
  4. But the most important reason is the right wing leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The Tony Blair-like party leader R. Scharping tried to gain votes from the middle class Liberal Democratic Party (FPD) instead of using the massive anger inside the working class. The Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) must show that it has broken with its undemocratic, Stalinist past as the ruling party in the state capitalist German Democratic Republic (GDR). It also has to demonstrate that this party is a real socialist alternative and not another reformist opposition in parliament.


Dirk Harmann

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