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Kohl's Party Defeated in Lower Saxony State Voting

March 14, 1994| Reuters

BONN — Germany's Social Democrats swept back into power in Lower Saxony state Sunday, dealing Chancellor Helmut Kohl's party a stinging defeat in the first of the country's 19 elections this year, German television said.

According to a computer projection, the Social Democrats won 44.4%, just above its score in 1990, while Kohl's Christian Democrats slumped to 35.9% from 42% in the last election.

It was the worst result since 1959 for the Christian Democrats in the northwestern state, Germany's third-largest, and a weak start for the embattled chancellor in his uphill drive for reelection in October.

"This is the day the twilight of the chancellor began in Bonn," said Green politician Juergen Trittin, the state's federal affairs minister.

Rita Suessmuth, Bonn Parliament Speaker and a leading CDU politician, said: "It is a bitter disappointment. It confirms that Bonn has had to make some hard decisions that did not necessarily appeal to the voters."

Kohl, chancellor since 1982, is trailing his SPD national challenger Rudolf Scharping in opinion polls that show voter dissatisfaction with mounting unemployment and the high cost of Germany's reunification in 1990.

Rain and strong winds kept voter turnout slightly lower during the day than in the 1990 poll, but chief election official Karl-Ludwig Strelen said turnout could reach the 1990 level of 74.6 %.

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