Chancellor Helmut Kohl's party swept to victory in state elections in eastern Germany, final results indicated Monday, solidifying its power just seven weeks before Germany holds its first nationwide balloting.
As a result of Sunday's conservative victory in four of the five new eastern states, the opposition Social Democrats appeared likely to lose their thin majority in the upper house of Parliament. They conceded the losses hurt their chances to unseat Kohl's government in the parliamentary election Dec. 2."It doesn't appear as if we're headed into any shining or glorious victory, but it is still not the reason to give up," said Reinhard Klimmt, the campaign manager for Kohl's Social Democrat challenger, Oskar Lafontaine. Klimmt spoke in an interview Monday with Saarland state radio.
Kohl told television reporters Sunday night: "The Dec. 2 elections have not been won, the results will come on Dec. 2. But we are in a good starting position."
Kohl's party leads a coalition that already controls the more powerful lower house of Parliament, or Bundestag. Representation in the legislation-reviewing upper house, or Bundesrat, is based on parties' electoral performance in statewide elections.
Sunday's vote was seen as a prelude to nationwide parliamentary elections on Dec. 2 - the first united German vote in 60 years and the fourth this year in what was still East Germany just weeks ago.
Results showed the Social Democrats defeating the Christian Democrats only in Brandenburg state, where Kohl's strength could not carry the unpopular conservative candidate. The Social Democrats got 38.8 percent of the vote in Brandenburg to 29.3 percent for the Christian Democrats and 12.8 percent for the renamed Communist Party.
The results showed the Christian Democrats won a majority in Saxony.
They also won the most votes in Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Lower Pomerania and were expected to form a coalition with the centrist Free Democrats to hold a majority in those three states.
The turnout in the five states that used to be East Germany ranged from 65 percent to 73.5 percent of the 11.5 million eligible voters.
Elections were also held Sunday in the former West German state of Bavaria, where the Christian Socialists, sister party in Kohl's coalition, retained their absolute majority.