West Germany: Surprises At the Polls

Surprises At the Polls

Personality seemed more important than party last week in two West German state elections, both of which produced surprises. In the Saarland, the country's smallest and poorest state, Oskar Lafontaine, 41, a shrewd and charismatic leftist, led the Social Democratic Party (SPD) to an absolute majority in a state assembly that had been dominated by conservatives for three decades. By contrast, in West Berlin, long a stronghold of the SPD, the ^ winner was a conservative, Christian Democratic Mayor Eberhard Diepgen, 43. Two elements common to both votes were the resurgence of the center-right Free Democrats, thought to be in danger...

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