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New Left Review I/162, March-April 1987


Werner Hülsberg

After the West German Elections

The political earthquake once widely predicted for the West German federal elections failed to take place on 25 January 1987. Six months earlier, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, the centre–right coalition had barely managed to scrape home in the Lower Saxony elections, just thirty thousand votes ahead of the combined spd and Greens total. But subsequent elections in Bavaria and Hamburg had registered a sharp decline in Social Democrat support, and by the late autumn of last year no one believed any longer that ‘red–green chaos, the destruction of Germany’ (as the ruling parties put it) was on the cards. Nevertheless, the conclusion of the listless election campaign—or at least the ranking and margins of difference—revealed significant shifts in the political configuration of the Federal Republic and provided little satisfaction for the Kohl administration. On the left, debates on the spd programme and arguments about the prospects for a red–green alliance, which had been suppressed during the election race, burst out again minutes after the polling stations had shut and the first computer predictions had flashed on the t.v. screens. For the spd strategy of eliminating the Greens, consistently pursued by the Party’s candidate for chancellor Johannes Rau, had boomeranged with the increased representation of the Greens in the Bundestag. In both parties the various tendencies had taken care to clear the decks for a hard-hitting balance-sheet of the preceding period.

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