Major Party Backs Joint German Elections in Six Months
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ East Germany’s second-largest political faction on Saturday endorsed joint German elections in December, greatly increasing the chances that one government will be running a united Germany in six months.
Also Saturday, a leading West German news magazine reported that Chancellor Helmut Kohl plans to travel to Moscow in late July bearing a multibillion- dollar economic aid package for the moribund Soviet economy.
East Germany’s Social Democrats had said earlier that joint elections, and full German unification, should not take place until late next year.
Party chief Sabine Riebe said her party will meet with West German Social Democrats on Sept. 26 to merge their parties. She proposed all-German elections Dec. 16 to replace the West German vote, scheduled for Dec. 2.
The decision came a day after the four World War II Allies that divided Germany promised to finish their negotiations on unification by year’s end.
West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, speaking on West German radio, said that move also clears the way for joint elections before year’s end.
Kohl is proposing they be held Dec. 9. Under the laws of both countries, a new Parliament would have to convene within 30 days of elections.
Regardless of the date, join elections and full German unity are looking increasingly inevitable by year’s end. The German states are to merge their economies on July 1-2, ending East Germany’s four decades of socialism.
They are also working on a new state treaty that would outline the details of merging the two political systems.
East Germany is expected to create a system of states to mirror the federal system in West Germany. The former Communist country will likely hold state elections in October.
Until recently, it appeared likely that full political unification would not take place until late next year. But Kohl last month urged joint elections in December to replace the Dec. 2 West German elections.
Kohl’s conservative Christian Democrats believe they will stand a better chance of winning unified elections.
The West German Social Democrats won three important state elections this year that were seen as a litmus test for the West German elections.
The Christian Democrats of Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere overwhelmingly won East Germany’s first free elections on March 18.
The Social Democrats in East Germany are members of de Maiziere’s broad coalition government. The West German Social Democrats, however, are the main opposition group in West Germany.
The left-leaning Social Democrats in both countries generally favor a more gradual approach to unification.
The superpowers, meanwhile, have promised to keep pace with the moves by the Germanys.
At a meeting in East Berlin on Friday, foreign ministers from the United States, Soviet Union, France and Britain promised to finish their talks on the international aspects of German unity by the end of the year.
They are negotiating whether a united Germany can be in NATO, which the Soviets oppose, and the status of U.S. troops in West Germany and Soviet troops in East Germany.
The Hamburg-based Der Spiegel magazine reported Saturday that Kohl would travel to Moscow with a ″generous″ Western economic credit that would total between $15 billion and $19 billion. Most of that would be guaranteed by the West German government, the weekly said in its Monday edition, portions of which were made available to other media.
A government spokesman in Bonn denied the report. Der Spiegel’s reports have on occasion proved correct after being denied by the government.
On Friday, the government confirmed it would back a West German bank credit of $3.1 billion to help the Soviet economy shift from central planning to free-market rule.