Kohl promises an election victory against the odds

THE GERMAN Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, yesterday insisted that he believes in victory for the Christian Democrats in elections in eight months' time, despite the party's poor performance in recent polls.

He told delegates to a Christian Democrat (CDU) party conference in Hamburg: 'We must fight, whether we have the wind behind us or - as at the moment - the wind against us.'

Delegates gave him a long, standing ovation after his 80-minute speech, in which he acknowledged that some people looked at him as if he were a 'strange bird' for talking about victory. But, he declared: 'We will win, if we do not go down on our knees before anybody.'

The party conference is intended to set the tone for a year in which there will be 19 elections, beginning with a regional election in three weeks' time and culminating with nationwide parliamentary elections in October.

Mr Kohl warned his internal party critics that they should voice their criticisms during the conference - 'And then that's it.' He argued: 'Anyone who seeks to raise his own profile at the expense of the whole, excludes himself from the community.' Mr Kohl, in power since 1982, has a formidable reputation for getting rid of those who seek to rebel against his authority.

Mr Kohl fiercely attacked the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), accusing them of lack of enthusiasm during German unity in 1990, and of 'betrayal' of Germany's future. He said that he was in favour of a 'fair campaign', but did not intend to 'turn the other cheek'. He claimed, too, that the SPD had wanted to 'kowtow' to the East German Communist Party leader, Erich Honecker. 'It is not a question of digging around in old files and certainly is not throwing mud, if I talk about what happened during those years,' he said.

In one respect at least, Mr Kohl appears to have gained the upper hand in the arguments within the party. After half-retreats in recent months, following attacks on closer European unity by the Bavarian Prime Minister, Edmund Stoiber, Mr Kohl fought successfully to keep the idea of the 'federal state' in the new party programme, which was approved by the party leadership at the weekend.

As regards the coming battle with the Social Democrats, Mr Kohl has every reason to be pessimistic. The latest polls confirm that Rudolf Scharping, the SPD leader, is much more popular: he has 35 per cent support, against 26 per cent for Mr Kohl. The outlook is also poor for the party battle. The SPD's support is 44 per cent, against 31 per cent for the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU.

But pollsters point out that Mr Kohl has, on previous occasions, gained victory from apparently unwinnable lows. The 'undecided' or 'non-voters' group continues to be larger than the declared support for either the Social Democrats or the Christian Democrats. In the words of Manfred Gullner, the director of the Forsa polling institute: 'The race is still open.'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible