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Kohl's Party Suffers Twin Setbacks in W. German Voting

June 19, 1989|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

BONN — Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union suffered sharp losses Sunday, both in voting for seats in the European Parliament and in two state elections.

The losses in European Parliament races by the right-of-center Christian Democrats mirrored those of other mainline conservative parties in most of the other 11 European Community nations whose election results were announced late Sunday.

In general, the complexion of the European Parliament, based in Strasbourg, France, showed a shift toward the left and to the environmentalist Greens.

But here in West Germany, gains in the European Parliament election were scored by the far-right Republicans, who polled 7.6% of the national vote and won six seats, according to projections by TV networks.

The Greens gained one seat, and the Free Democrats, a small partner in Kohl's coalition government, won four. The Christian Democrats lost nine seats, and the opposition Social Democrats lost two.

270 Seats for Leftist Groups

According to computer predictions by national television networks and the European Community's statistical office in Brussels, Eurostat, a total of 270 seats in the 518-seat European Parliament went to the Socialists, Communists and the Greens-dominated Rainbow Group, up from 234.

The center-right to far-right parties took about 230 seats, down from 269 in the last Parliament. Only the far right made gains, up to 21 versus 16.

The Socialists were expected to reinforce their position as the largest single bloc in the assembly with 192 seats, up from 166 in the last Parliament. The Rainbow Group was expected to take 38 seats versus 20.

European Community officials said a shift to the left in the Parliament, which has only limited powers, could affect the community's drive to abolish all internal frontiers and become a genuine Common Market by the end of 1992.

In France, the Greens made a spectacular breakthrough with about 11% of the vote, tripling their total in the 1984 vote for the European Parliament, television channels predicted.

Far-Right Gains

Former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing fared well, with a projected 29% for his center-right list. The ruling Socialists finished second with a disappointing 23%, and the far-right National Front polled as many votes as the Greens.

In addition to France and West Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Luxembourg also voted Sunday.

Early results showed the center-right opposition leading in Greece and the center-left coalition in Luxembourg losing some of its vote to single-issue parties.

Voters in Britain, Ireland, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands went to the polls on Thursday.

Projections after Thursday's vote showed the opposition Labor Party making big gains in Britain.

27 Seats for Spain's Socialists

In Spain, the ruling Socialists won 27 of the country's allotted 60 seats in the Strasbourg assembly. The main conservative Popular Party and centrist Social and Democratic Center won 15 and five, respectively.

In the Netherlands, caretaker Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers' Christian Democrats gained two seats to bring their tally to 10. The right-wing Liberals lost two of their five seats. Labor lost one of its nine seats.

Portugal's delegation of 24 deputies was expected to show few changes with the ruling Social Democratic Party losing one of its 10 seats to the opposition Socialists, who were likely to return eight, according to television projections.

In West Germany's state elections, Kohl's Christian Democrats polled only 42.8% of the vote in the chancellor's home state, Rhineland-Palatinate. That was 8.4 percentage points lower than the comparable vote of four years ago. The Social Democrats gained 5.1 percentage points, while the Greens moved up 2.9 percentage points to capture 9.8% of the vote.

Though the results were disappointing to Kohl, particularly after recent foreign policy successes, he indicated that the local losses would not cause him to consider relinquishing his federal post.

Kohl 'Not Satisfied'

"I am not satisfied with this result," Kohl said in a television interview when the projections were announced. "The Republicans are not a party we can form a coalition with. It is clear we will have to win back the Republican voters."

The right-wing Republicans drew much of their support from the large state of Bavaria, where they polled about 15% of the vote.

After the projections were announced, Franz Shoenhuber, leader of the Republicans, said he is against the European Community's intention to form a single market after 1992.

"If the border checks by German customs officers and border guards go, there will be an enormous influx of criminal organizations--the Mafia and Camorra--and drug consumption will rise enormously," he said.

The television projections estimated the voter turnout at 60%, a very low figure compared to what can be expected in regular West German national elections.

Kohl and the Christian Democrats had been expected to fare less well Sunday than in past elections, analysts said, and the results showed that the ruling coalition will have to make up lost ground if it expects to win again nationally in December, 1990.

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