Where the News Ends

CHAMBERLIN, WILLIAM HENRY

WHERE the NEWS ENDS By William Henry Chamberlin Bonn's Adenauer Seeks Third Term By William Henry Chamberlin Frankfurt The average German voter in | the election September 15 will feel that he...

...But the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats, a liberal middle-class party which broke away from Adenauer's coalition two years ago, would have the necessary majority to organize the next government...
...The Social Democrats have plastered the billboards of Frankfurt and other large towns with a poster referring to a speech by Adenauer in Nuremberg, in which he said: "We shall take care that the Social Democrats do not come to power...
...One well-known Frankfurt publicist predicted that Adenauer would fall as a result of this situation...
...WHERE the NEWS ENDS By William Henry Chamberlin Bonn's Adenauer Seeks Third Term By William Henry Chamberlin Frankfurt The average German voter in | the election September 15 will feel that he is voting for or against Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, not on complicated issues of foreign and domestic policy which he does not understand very well...
...Adenauer's foreign policy was expressed most recently in the declaration subscribed by Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano and the three ambassadors of the Western powers: Germany should be reunited on a basis of free elections and the united Germany would be free to remain in NATO...
...So it may now be necessary for the imperious old Chancellor to do some horse-trading with the minor parties which will hold the balance of power if neither the CDU nor the Social Democrats win an absolute majority...
...Mellies emphasized that there could be no compromise on the issue of freedom and that the Social Democrats would not arbitrarily repudiate the existing NATO obligations, but would try to persuade the Western powers to release Germany from them...
...but among non-political Germans one often meets the feeling that nothing bad will happen so long as "der Alte" is steering the ship of state...
...Mende declared that the majority of his party's members would be averse to a coalition with the Social Democrats and would prefer a new working arrangement with the CDU on a more equal basis...
...Adenauer's opponents denounce his imperious methods and even some of his supporters admit that he is inclined to take shortcuts when he can, bypassing the normal democratic processes of persuasion...
...This was unusual for multi-party Europe...
...This is how one of the editors of the best known Frankfurt newspaper summed up the election prospect some five weeks before the voting...
...The Social Democrats also favor the abolition of conscription and certain changes, although not spectacular ones, in internal economic policies...
...Most of the other Germans with whom I discussed it believed that Adenauer would win, but by a less spectacular margin than in 1953, when his Christian Democratic Union obtained an absolute majority of the seats in the Bundestag...
...The poster compares this with Hitler's assertion that the Nazi party was the sole legal party and continues: "In twelve years Hitler ruined Germany...
...If it did, concessions to satisfy Soviet security fears could be worked out in negotiations...
...And the issue may turn on the 12 or 15 per cent of the voters who, according to public opinion polls, have not yet made up their minds...
...Attacking Social Democratic views on reunifying Germany and substituting a general European security treaty for NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Adenauer had declared that a Social Democratic victory would mean the downfall of Germany...
...The CDU, according to his estimate, would come out the strongest single party...
...Don't give Adenauer twelve years...
...At this moment it looks like Adenaueróby a narrower margin than in 1953...
...This was in response to some pretty rough handling of the Social Democrats in Adenauer's Nuremberg speech...
...Against this prediction, which was on the minority side, one must set the pessimism voiced by two prominent Free Democrats in Diisseldorf and Bonn: Wilhelm Weier, Finance Minister in the North Rhine-Westphalia provincial government, an active promoter of the switch to a coalition with the Social Democrats, and Erich Mende, a prominent member of the Bundestag...
...It is always rash to predict the outcome of an election...
...One has only to stroll down one of the main streets of Frankfurt and look at the conflicting election posters to realize that the Chancellor's personality is, indeed, a major election issue...
...The Social Democratic view, as explained to me by Wilhelm Mellies, the party's deputy chairman, is that the West should consent to German withdrawal from NATO as part of a package deal which would include German reunification in freedom and the creation of a European security system, to which Germany would make a military contribution...
...Both Weier and Mende expressed doubt that the Social Democrats and Free Democrats would have enough votes between them to organize the next government...
...The rugged 81-year-old Chancellor, who can still stand up in 95° heat and speak for an hour without a sign of fatigue, is the type of man who inspires respect rather than enthusiasm...

Vol. 40 • August 1957 • No. 33


 
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