German chancellor's ruling party happy to hold its ground
October 11, 1999
From Berlin Bureau Chief Chris Burns
BERLIN (CNN) -- Though they lost a Sunday state vote in Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats declared a small victory after holding onto their usual share of the electorate.
The Social Democrats' 23 percent showing in Berlin's state elections was the party's first positive sign in weeks. A year after coming to power, Schroeder and his party have lost six state elections in recent weeks: The Berlin vote is the last such test this year.
An unpopular, $16 billion austerity package and a weak local campaign have combined to push Schroeder's SPD to a distant second in Berlin behind the conservative Christian Democrats.
The Christian Democrats' Eberhard Diepgen, Berlin's mayor, took 40 percent of the vote. Social Democratic challenger Walter Momper, who was the city's mayor when the Berlin Wall came down 10 years ago, trailed with 23 percent.
That's about the same share the SPD garnered in the last Berlin campaign, and the party was happy just to have come out ahead of the former communist Party of Democratic Socialism, which has made recent gains in other state elections.
The PDS took 18 percent of the vote, while the Greens -- the environmentalist party that shares power with the SPD -- earned 10 percent of the vote.
The unemployment rate in the area remains 16 percent -- a typical figure in the formerly communist east. Unemployment was one of the major issues that brought Schroeder to power last October.
Berlin is the only German state where former East and West Germans both are represented. The ex-communists took 40 percent of the vote in what was once East Berlin, but only four percent in the districts comprising the former West Berlin.
Schroeder readies tough budget plan for Germany's future
Christian Democratic Party (CDU) Deutschlands (in German)
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