News Social Democrats count votes in Berlin yesterday

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives were on course to form a grand coalition government.

... and in Germany, Kohl rallies the troops for battle with Bundesbank battle45 roman over deckys

Chancellor Helmut Kohl summoned leaders of the governing parties to an emergency meeting last night in an effort to forge an unprecedented common front against the Bundesbank.

Obituary: Karl-Uwe von Hassel

Kai-Uwe von Hassel was regarded as an outstanding representative of the Protestant majority of the north German Christian Democratic Union (CDU). His first top job was as Minister-President, or head of government, of Schleswig- Holstein, in 1954-62. He was campaign manager in the election of 1961, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's last, in which the Christian Democrats lost ground due to the Berlin Wall crisis of August. But when the overweight, highly intelligent Catholic Bavarian Franz Josef Strauss was forced out of office as Defence Minister in 1962, the slender, averagely intelligent northerner replaced him. Von Hassel had a good military pedigree which must have been some comfort to the traditionalist wing of the West German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Haughey wins a reprieve in secret gifts case

Charles Haughey was yesterday given a temporary reprieve before answering claims by the former supermarket magnate Ben Dunne that he secretly paid the politician pounds 1.3m while Taoiseach between 1987 and 1991.

Haughey fights to keep secrets surrounding pounds 1.3m gift

Charles Haughey, the embattled former Irish prime minister, could seek a judicial review at the Dublin High Court today to maintain the secrecy of discussions about pounds 1.3m he received from a leading Irish supermarket chain.

Labour promises a new Camelot

The odour of sanctity hovers in the air as Tony Blair, the parfait knight, speaks of his divine mission to save our divided society

German Jews denounce move to cap numbers

A proposal by conservative politicians to limit Jewish immigration to Germany was roundly condemned by community leaders yesterday as blatant "rabble-rousing".

Germans are freed at last to shop on Saturday afternoon

Saturdays will never be the same again and some Germans fear the very fabric of society is about to be ripped apart by a radical decision to allow shops to open at the customer's convenience. The Bundestag yesterday voted to extend shopping hours to 8pm on weekdays and a daring 4pm on Saturdays, overturning a 40-year law which ensured that shop assistants got home at a decent time.

Letter; Divided Italy

The regional division which Umberto Bossi and the Northern League endorse is as long-lived as the political union of Italy in 1861, a union which did not rely on a groundswell of popular support and movement ("Enter the Independent Republic of Padania", 9 June). Italy has never been a nation. A superimposed state has to this day failed to eliminate regional differences, as the League's success in Italy's April election testifies. Liberalism, Fascism and Christian Democrat-led democracy have left little impression on the formation of an Italian people who seem only to rally behind the national flag when it comes to EU subsidies and Euro 96. Elsewhere, acute ancient commercial, topographical and linguistic divisions still lie.

'Murder' link to Slovak kidnap inquiry

As though an unresolved dispute about the kidnapping of the President's son were not enough, Slovakia has now been plunged into another controversy concerning the mysterious death of a former policemen who played a key role in the kidnap investigation.

Italy's victorious Olive Tree sapped by the hunt for allies

Three days after its historic victory, Italy's centre-left Olive Tree coalition is getting a taste of the obstacles ahead, as it struggles with its own internal contradictions, weighs up the choice of allies it needs for a majority in parliament, and fights off lingering fears of the man it beat, Silvio Berlusconi.

Italy heads back into a political void

ANDREW GUMBEL

Obituary / Corneliu Coposu

Corneliu Coposu's story is one of the most remarkable in the annals of Communist repression in eastern Europe. In 1990, aged 74, he emerged from nearly 50 years of prison and police surveillance to revive the National Peasant and Christian Democratic Party (PNTCD) and make it a magnet of opposition to the ex-Communists in charge of Romania. He was a steadfast opponent of intolerance and did his best to foster relations with Romania's Hungarian and Jewish minorities.

Andreotti faces murder trial

ANDREW GUMBEL

Kohl's enemies ready to play anti-EMU card

Germany's governing Christian Democrats seem to be the envy of the conservative world. Helmut Kohl, in his 13th year as Chancellor, is riding high in the polls, the economy is sound, and the opposition obligingly tearing itself apart.
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