German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's center-right party is expected to emerge as the big winner today as 20 million Germans vote in the five new eastern German states and Bavaria.
The state elections will indicate the political trend for the Dec. 2 national election, in which voters will determine whether Kohl will remain German chancellor.Recent polls show that Kohl's popularity and that of his Christian Democratic Union have risen sharply as a result of his role in bringing about the Oct. 3 unification of East and West Germany. Kohl is West German chancellor.
Today's elections are being held in six of the 16 states that now form the Federal Republic of Germany - the five former East German states and the southern state of Bavaria. Regional elections in unified Berlin will not be held until Dec. 2.
A recent opinion poll by Germany's Allensbach Institute showed Kohl's CDU leading strongly in four of the five new eastern German states. After the elections, state parliaments will assemble and elect an administration headed by a prime minister.
In Bavaria, the CDU's arch-conservative sister party, the Christian Social Union, is expected to lose 1 to 5 percent of the 55-percent majority it used to receive under the leadership of the late Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauss.
Although a change of government is unlikely, the CSU which has ruled Bavaria for the last 33 years, may lose its absolute majority.
Contrary to the fierce battle for votes in Bavaria, campaigning in the five eastern states was low-key.
Many voters seemed more concerned with the economic crisis that has hit the five states since the monetary union with West Germany July 1 than with regional elections.