Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who triumphed in the first free all-German elections in 60 years, began talks Monday on forming a new coalition and discussed the new Germany's role in the Persian Gulf.
"On international levels, one is conscious of a special responsibility," he told reporters a day after his center-right coalition rode to victory, buoyed by his own popularity as a champion of quick unity.But Kohl indicated Germany probably would not be able to quickly make a constitutional change that would be needed to allow the deployment of German troops in the Persian Gulf or elsewhere outside NATO areas.
"We will discuss this within the coalition. I don't see this situation at the moment," he said. Kohl himself proposed the amendment, but many of the opposition Social Democrats have criticized it.
Kohl said he had already begun initial talks on forming a new coalition with his Christian Democratic Union's current governing partners, the Christian Social Union and the Free Democrats.
He has indicated he wants to have his Cabinet in place by Christmas, but his coalition colleagues are pressing him for instant decisions on his next Cabinet.
One decision was made for him when Economics Minister Helmut Haussmann said he was quitting the Cabinet amid what German television claimed was growing criticism over Haussmann's handling of the economy.
Haussmann was a major force in putting together the economic and monetary union of West Germany and East Germany in July, a crucial step toward full unification Oct. 3. He gave no reason for quitting.
But Stern magazine released an interview with central bank chief Karl Otto Poehl, who criticized Kohl's plans to borrow up to $100 billion next year to finance unification. Poehl's comments were confirmed by the Bundesbank's press office.
The big losers in Sunday's elections were the leftist Social Democrats, the main opposition party, and the far-leftist Greens. Both parties had criticized Kohl's rapid pace of unification and accused his Christian Democrats of underplaying the cost of bringing the east up to the standard of the west.
The Greens, Europe's most-established ecology movement, lost most of their seats in parliament, receiving only 3.9 percent of the vote in western Germany. The Social Democrats, led by Oskar Lafontaine, polled 33.5 percent.
Kohl's center-right governing coalition won 54.8 percent of the vote. The government put turnout at 78.5 percent of 60 million eligible voters.
"King Kohl and Big Genscher," screamed the tabloid Bild newspaper on the landslide win by Kohl and his unification lieutenant, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Berlin - the united Germany's designated capital - held its first combined city elections in 44 years Sunday. The conservative slate won the most votes but appeared to lack the majority needed to unseat Mayor Walter Momper's Social Democrat-led administration.
The elections marked the first free balloting in a united Germany since Adolf Hitler's rise to power ended in the devastation of World War II, and they capped a year of political victories for Kohl.
The 60-year-old chancellor, who championed the swift merger of the two Germanys and now begins a third four-year term, was jubilant and confident after his victory. But he conceded difficult challenges lie ahead, especially restructuring the economy in eastern Germany.
"I have never kept secret the problems that we have," Kohl said in a televised panel discussion that included Lafontaine. "It is a difficult transition period." He predicted that within four years prosperity will exist across all of Germany, that "the strengths of the social market economy, reasonably applied, will create a huge, united, flourishing landscape."
Lafontaine acknowledged his party had misjudged Kohl and conceded that "in the long term, people will be better off" in what was East Germany.
Breakdown of Sunday's vote
The governing coalition:
Christian Democrats - 36.7 percent of the vote, 262 seats in Parliament.
Christian Social Union (CDU Bavarian sister party) - 7.1 percent, 51 seats.
Free Democrats - 11 percent, 79 seats.
Social Democratic Party - 33.5 percent, 239 seats.
Party for Democratic Socialism, (former East German Communists) - 2.4 percent (9.9 percent in East Germany), 17 seats.
Greens-Alliance 90 - 1.2 percent (5.9 percent in East German), 8 seats.
The rest of the vote went to smaller parties that did not gain seats in Parliament.