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Kohl Reelected in Bonn, Faces Political Troubles and Stalled Economy

March 12, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BONN — West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was reelected by Parliament on Wednesday to a second four-year term, with tough political problems and a stalled economy awaiting his weakened center-right coalition government.

Kohl, 56, is expected to need all his skill as a power broker to deal with farmers angry at plans to scrap subsidies, a fresh union drive for a shorter work week, high unemployment, simmering coalition disputes--and five state elections this year.

Close Vote in Parliament

Kohl's Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union, suffered heavy losses when their coalition with the liberal Free Democrats was returned to power Jan. 25. Under West German law, voters elect the Bundestag (lower house of Parliament), which then elects the chancellor.

Wednesday's vote was unexpectedly close, with some lawmakers in Kohl's own governing coalition apparently failing to support him. Kohl's coalition has 269 voting lawmakers, 20 more than the majority needed.

Of 487 votes cast, 253 were for Kohl's reelection and 225 against it. There six abstentions, and three ballots were ruled invalid.

Later in the day, Kohl announced his new Cabinet, which closely resembled his former governing team. The coalition has agreed on the broad outlines of a government program to crack down on terrorists, spur the economy and clean up the environment.

The coalition, suffering from internal differences, also faces a tough time from the outside. Farmers angry at the European Communities' plan to drop farm subsidies deserted the coalition in the polls and now are mounting regular and noisy protests.

The IG Metallunion, which paralyzed the country's auto industry for seven weeks in a 1984 bid for a shorter work week, is leading a new campaign for a 35-hour week.

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