Thus far, the famous "Schroder effect" has only been in evidence in the election in his home state of Lower Saxony, which was, above all, a plebiscite on who should be the SPD candidate for Chancellor. Since then he insists there's only one question: Kohl or Schroder? The old or the young? But the real question is whether Schroder doesn't look older than is good for him.
THE IMMEDIATE effects of the Bavarian election are obvious. The ruling coalition has gained new heart, while the Social Democrats' certainty of victory has taken a rude knock. But that will motivate their activists as well - though it's not clear how that will show up in the mood of ordinary voters over the last days of the campaign. But the long-term implications of the vote are even more interesting. Whatever happens on 27 September, Edmund Stoiber's personal success means that, like Franz-Josef Strauss before him, he can demand a large say in shaping the policy of the centre- right coalition at a federal level. If the coalition retains power, then he will automatically become a possible successor to Kohl. If it is defeated, Stoiber will be well placed to take over full control of the CSU.
THERE ARE two explanations for what happened, and the first is not as bad for the SPD as the second. First, Schroder may have failed to turn the Bavarian election into a test run for 27 September, but he nonetheless may have managed to secure the votes of some Bavarians for the federal election. The second explanation is that there is no "Schroder effect", even though a mood for change is allegedly to be felt across the country.