BERLIN -- Voters in two German states handed a sharp rebuff to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder yesterday, ousting his long-dominant Social Democratic Party in the western Saarland and ushering a far-right party into the state Parliament for the first time in Brandenburg.
The results were a major setback for the chancellor, who has been unable to exploit the wave of enthusiasm that brought him to office a year ago. He has seen his support dwindle steadily as unemployment in Europe's largest economy has remained high, with discontent widespread.
In a televised statement, Schroeder said that he was "disappointed and sad" about the results, but that they would in no way affect his "readiness to fight on."
In Saarland, where the Social Democrats have been in power for 15 years, television projections showed the Christian Democrats edging out Schroeder's party by 45.3 percent to 44.3 percent -- a remarkable result in what amounts to a heartland of German labor.
Voters in Brandenburg, a former East German state surrounding Berlin, turned away from the Social Democrats in droves, bringing the party's share of the vote down to about 39.5 percent from 54.1 percent in 1994. The Social Democrats will be obliged to form a coalition government in the state.
The far-right Deutsche Volks-union, which attributed the high unemployment in Brandenburg to the presence of foreigners, qualified for parliamentary representation, projections showed.
Pub Date: 9/06/99