Democrats vote

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

Opposition Social Democrats met in public halls, gardens and living rooms all over Germany yesterday to vote in their first American-style primary for a new party leader, Reuter reports from Dusseldorf.

Rank-and-file members began voting as the three candidates - the state leaders Rudolf Scharping of Rhineland-Palatinate and Gerhard Schroeder of Lower Saxony, and the parliamentary deputy, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul - held a final televised debate. The party opted for the unprecedented poll of its 870,000 members after its chairman, Bjorn Engholm, resigned last month.