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Kohl Tries to Revive Party's Sagging Morale

November 10, 1987|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

BONN — West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl attempted to revive the sagging morale of his Christian Democratic Union at its one-day congress here Monday, urging the party to put behind it the so-called Barschel scandal.

The Christian Democratic Union, the principal partner in the coalition government, has been shaken by the apparent suicide of Uwe Barschel, former premier of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, after he was accused of using "dirty tricks" in the September election.

As a result of the incident, Kohl and other party figures have been accused of providing wavering leadership. Finance Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg has been singled out for criticism because he is the party leader in Schleswig-Holstein.

"We humans have an abyss inside us," Kohl told the 750 delegates in trying to explain Barschel's motivation. "The more power people have, the greater the danger."

New Elections Seen

The Christian Democrats have not done well in four of the last five state elections, and because of Barschel's resignation and death, there probably will be new elections in Schleswig-Holstein.

The Christian Democrats will bear the burden of charges that Barschel ran a dirty campaign in order to discredit the Social Democratic candidate, Bjoern Engholm. Some political observers are suggesting that the opposition could win a majority in the expected new election.

Late Monday, Kohl was reelected as party leader, although by a slightly smaller majority that might reflect uncertainty about his leadership. He has headed the party since 1973 and won the chancellorship in 1982 and again last January.

He has been criticized by the Christian Democrats' sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union, as being indecisive and soft on communism. The other coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party, has charged him with being inflexible in foreign affairs.

"I know that public disagreements in the coalition are blamed on the chancellor," Kohl said Monday, "but the chancellor cannot bring about decisions with harsh words, and it is very rarely wise to speak about these things in public."

Reason for Self-Criticism

He agreed that mistakes had been made in Schleswig-Holstein, where party leaders at first stood by Barschel, then abruptly abandoned him and urged him to resign. "We all have to hear from both sides in a conflict," Kohl said, "especially those who face accusations. Our party, too, has reason for self-criticism in this regard."

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