The end of Kohl's 16-year tenure also marks the end of Germany's postwar era. "Kohl's themes were derived from World War II and the Cold War," says TIME correspondent James Graff. "He shepherded the country through the complex process of reunification, and worked to protect Germany from its worst impulses by centering it in a strong European Union." Schroeder, by contrast, is a German baby-boomer, concerned less with the past and the wider European perspective than with the domestic economy. "This election marks a new generation assuming the leadership of Germany, one less shadowed by the legacy of the war," says Graff. "Enough of history, German voters seemed to say; let's have a fresh start."
BONN: Reuniting Germany was Helmut Kohl's greatest triumph; it may also have been his undoing. The voters of the former East Germany, embittered by rampant unemployment and economic stagnation, appear to have tipped the balance in the landmark election Sunday that ousted a sitting chancellor for the first time in modern German history. Gerhard Schroeder, a 56-year-old Social Democrat who had retooled his party along the centrist "Third Way" lines championed by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, soundly defeated Kohl in the hard-fought election. But he won't find it easy to make good on promises to give East Germans a new deal while cutting taxes and welfare, especially since he'll be dependent on the left-leaning Greens to secure his mandate.