When Helmut Kohl became Federal Chancellor in 1982, few would have predicted that this apparently rather mediocre personality would outlast the dynamic and charismatic Margaret Thatcher. Since then, despite formidable periodic attempts by members of his own party to oust him, Mr Kohl has thrived on his opponents' underestimation and on the lack of internal challengers able to appeal to the broad church of his Christian Democratic Party.
John Major appears to have secured his own position within his party at least until the next general election. The example of Helmut Kohl indicates that it is Mr Major's very ordinariness and his lack of charisma, through which he manages not to offend any section of his own party, or of the country at large, that may be the his greatest asset.
Yours faithfully, JAN PALMOWSKI Lincoln College Oxford 17 October