BONN — Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union decisively defeated Hamburg's ruling Social Democratic Party in elections Sunday in the city-state but failed to win an absolute majority in the 120-seat Parliament.
The elections were West Germany's last major test at the polls before the federal elections Jan. 25 that are expected to keep Kohl's Bonn coalition in power.
"This is a massive loss for the Social Democrats," said Mayor Klaus von Dohnanyi, whose party has ruled Hamburg for nearly 30 years, "and a massive personal loss for me. I wanted an absolute majority, and I now have to take the consequences."
Kohl called the outcome "a very good starting position for the national election."
More Votes for Greens
According to provisional official results, the Social Democrats' vote in the party's northern stronghold fell to 40.9%, down from the 51.3% that they collected in 1982. The Christian Democrats received a 41.9% share of the vote, up 3.3% from their 1982 showing.
The environmentalist Greens party got 10.4% of the vote, up from 6.8% in 1982. The small, liberal Free Democratic Party, a junior partner in the federal coalition, won 4.8% of the vote, up from 2.6% in 1982, but not enough to clear the 5% hurdle required for representation in state as well as federal parliaments.
Under Sunday's results, the Social Democrats could retain control of Parliament in an alliance with the Greens, but Von Dohnanyi reiterated, in post-election comments, that he would not join forces with the small radical party, which fielded an all-woman slate.
There is no chance that the Greens and the conservative Christian Democrats would join in a coalition government. The Christian Democrats may rule as a minority government, as the city's Social Democrats have done after past elections.
Although Von Dohnanyi, 58, is personally popular, his government's image had been damaged by high unemployment and scandals.
Christian Democratic mayoral candidate Hartmut Perschau, 44, cited Hamburg's unemployment rate of 10.9%, well above the national rate, as evidence that the Social Democrats were incompetent.
The Christian Democrats had hoped to gain from recent scandals. In one, a man shot his wife, a prosecutor and himself at city police headquarters. The investigation resulted in the resignation of the city ministers for justice and internal security.
Perschau charged that Hamburg has become "an impoverished nest of criminals."
Haven for Terrorists Seen
Perschau promised to clean up the police force if elected, and to clear abandoned houses along the Hamburg harbor that he claims are a haven for supporters of the leftist terrorist Red Army Faction.
But despite the local issues, the election outcome in West Germany's second largest city, with a population of 1.7 million, is seen as part of a developing national trend that is strengthening the Kohl coalition's chances of remaining in power for another four years.