The Week Ahead: Bavarian threat to Liberals

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GERMANY'S Free Democrats face a further drubbing, in Bavaria on Sunday, where an opinion poll predicts that they will win only 3 per cent of votes in regional parliament election and thus fail to get any seats at all. It would be a strong signal that the party, a junior partner in every national government for the past 25 years, faces annihilation in general elections next month. The Christian Social Union, sister to Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union, looks set to retain its absolute majority.

In Denmark, which holds general elections on Wednesday, the left-wing parties have extended their lead over the right-wing opposition. A poll gives the Social Democrat-led coalition and two far-left parties a 53.5 per cent rating compared with 45.5 per cent for the three-party opposition.

Representatives of five Algerian parties resume talks with the government tomorrow on ways of ending the insurrection led by the Islamic Salvation Front. Two FIS leaders were transferred from military jail to house arrest last week in an attempt to nudge the party towards tomorrow's talks. But the FIS leader in exile, Rabah Kebir, says they will not talk unless Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj are given 'total and complete freedom'.

The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee opens hearings tomorrow on alleged discrimination against women in the CIA. Six former CIA members have broken the code of silence to support a former agent's claim that she was a victim of male chauvinism. Janine Brookner, say the six, was an excellent undercover agent who was demoted to a desk job after the agency called her 'a drunk and a sexual provocateur'. She sued, claiming she was punished for challenging a 'pervasive atmosphere of machismo and sexual discrimination'.

The Bangladeshi feminist writer, Taslima Nasreen, will attend a writers' conference on freedom of expression from Wednesday until Friday in the Norwegian town of Stavanger. Ms Nasreen, threatened with death by Islamic fundamentalists, escaped to Sweden last month. Salman Rushdie is also expected to take part.

The Swiss hold a referendum on Sunday on restricting free speech or, depending how you look at it, outlawing racial discrimination. The government wants to ban all speech that incites racist violence and degrades human dignity.

Zulus in South Africa remember their 19th-Century king, Shaka, on Saturday. But the celebrations may be overshadowed by a row over an invitation to President Nelson Mandela from King Goodwill Zwelithini that has infuriated Inkatha leaders.

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