Stunned leaders of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's governing Christian Democrats gathered Monday after their party was ousted from power in state elections in Schleswig-Holstein for the first time in 38 years.
The party's top officials, led by Kohl, met in Bonn to assess the damage done to the conservative Christian Democrats in the Sunday elections in the northern West German state.The results marked one of the worst defeats for the governing party since Kohl took office five years ago.
The Schleswig-Holstein poll also was a decisive victory for the opposition Social Democrats, who had lost ground in a string of state elections over the past 18 months.
While the Schleswig-Holstein election will have little immediate effect on Kohl's coalition government in Bonn, it will boost the Social Democrats' flagging morale nationwide.
Unofficial results showed the Christian Democrats polled 33.3 percent of the vote, which was called to break the stalemate in the state's government that followed an inconclusive election in September 1987. In the September vote, the Christian Democrats had polled 42.6 percent of the vote.
The Social Democrats posted a surprising 54.8 percent of the vote, well above the 45.2 percent it polled in September, according to the unofficial figures.