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Kohl’s Party Loses State Election, But Tiny Ally Gets Reprieve

February 20, 1995

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Helmut Kohl lost his first big popularity test of 1995 when a leftist alliance defeated his party in Hesse state elections.

Still, there was a plus side for the chancellor, whose hold on power has been slipping because of the high costs of German unification: The Free Democrats, a tiny coalition partner, kept seats in Sunday’s election for the Hesse state parliament.

The Free Democrats have seen their popularity erode since the former foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, retired as party chairman three years ago. Headed by the current foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, the party has failed to win parliamentary seats in nine previous state elections.

Some Free Democrats had demanded Kinkel’s resignation, which could conceivably cause Kohl’s coalition to collapse. But the Hesse election, in which the Free Democrats were projected to take 7.6 percent of the ballots, takes some of the heat off both Kinkel and Kohl.

The governorship was reclaimed by Social Democrat Hans Eichel who, together with his coalition partners, the environmentalist Greens, were projected to win about 50 percent of the vote.

The Christian Democratic candidate, Interior Minister Manfred Kanther, and the Free Democrats together polled a projected 46 percent of the vote.

Projected results by the ARD television network would give the Social Democrats 44 of 110 seats in the Hesse parliament, 13 to the Greens, 44 to the Christian Democrats and nine to the Free Democrats.

The election was the first of four state votes scheduled for this year.

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