Voters in two German states deliver anti-foreigner protest

April 06, 1992|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Berlin Bureau

BERLIN -- Voters mauled the big parties in two German states yesterday, giving stunning protest votes to right-wing parties with strong anti-foreigner platforms.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union took the biggest hit in Baden-Wuerttemburg, where the CDU lost a 20-year-long majority in the state Parliament.

The opposition Social Democratic Party lost its majority in Schleswig-Holstein, where the state premier is Bjorn Engholm, the SPD chairman who will probably face Mr. Kohl in a 1994 national election.

The results reflected voters' discontent with the established parties' inability to deal with the economy and the nation's growing immigrant population.

Minority parties, from the Greens to the Deutsches Volks Union, scored off the major parties, and German nationalists with noisy anti-foreigner biases led the way.

Fifteen parties were on the ballot in Baden-Wuerttemburg, a prosperous southwest German state where Mercedes automobiles and Black Forest cuckoo clocks are made.

The Republikaner Party, which received only 1 percent of the vote in 1988, shot up to 11 percent in Baden-Wuerttemburg.

The CDU dropped 10 percent and lost its last majority government in one of the former West German states.

"A very difficult defeat," said Erwin Teufel, the CDU leader in Baden-Wuerttemburg. "It was a defeat for the democratic parties."

In Schleswig-Holstein, the radical right Deutsches Volkes Union, which wasn't even on the ballot in the last election, got about 6.5 percent of the vote.

Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost German state, a finger of land sticking up between the North Sea and the Baltic and bordering on Denmark.

"Deutsches geld fur Deutsches volk [German money for German people]," screeched a jubilant Ingo Slawik, a DVU leader who calls himself a simple working man.

The Greens, the party of ecological activists, made modest gains. But they fell behind the right-wing nationalists in both states.

In Germany, where the economy is sagging and both unemployment and taxes are high, blaming the "auslander," or foreigner, had a potent appeal.

CDU leaders talked about "learning" from this election, but whether that meant a shift to the right was not immediately clear.

About 70 percent of the 9.3 million eligible to vote in the two states actually cast ballots, slightly less than expected.

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