WEST GERMANY: Facing a Helmut Problem

A year ago, he was on top of his political world. With the strongest major economy in Europe, and a comfortable majority in the Bundestag, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt reveled in his reputation as a confident, politically shrewd Macher (doer).

No longer. Schmidt today is in deep trouble. The West German economy is in the doldrums. His coalition government, which was narrowly returned in the national election last October,* is strained close to the breaking point. Schmidt's own Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.) is in disarray, and relations with the U.S. are difficult. Twice last month the Chancellor narrowly avoided...

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