ON THE WORLD SCENEON THE WORLD SCENE

STRAUSS EDGES CLOSER TO THE TOP:

A very important realignment of political power is taking place in West Germany the end of which, some months down the road, could possibly see Franz Josef Strauss becoming Chancellor of the Bundesrepublik, much to the consternation of many in the country.

The chain of events began on May 23 with the election of Karl Carstens as the Federal Republic's fifth president. Carstens succeeds the very popular Walter Scheel who chose not to run again. The reason Scheel did not run is that he could not possibly have won another term since the largely ceremonial office of the presidency is determined not by popu1ar vote, but by the 518 members of the Bundestag along with 518 additional delegates for the ten German lander (states) plus West Berlin. Since the conservative CDU/CSU coalition has a majority in the state parliaments, there was no way for Scheel, a Free Democrat whose party is allied with the SPD (Schmidt's Socialists) on the federal level, to win.

Thus, West Germany now has a Christian Democratic President to go along with a Social Democratic Chancellor, somewhat of an unstable combination (though not as bad as the Brown-Curb tussle in Sacramento).

Carstens holds a Masters of Law degree from Yale, speaks perfect English and has had a long and distinguished career as a civil servant. The fact that he was forced (he claims) to take out Nazi Party membership in order to hold government office during that period, has not materially affected his service.

Carstens, however, does mark a change in political temperament in West Germany. According to Handelsblatt, Germany's "Wall Street Journal," "many think that with the entering into office of Karl Carstens there will be the beginning of a new era of conservatism, even of reaction, in the Federal Republic." Only time will tell, said Handelsblatt.

Close Friend of Strauss.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung of May 25 said that "Karl Carstens personifies the trend toward conservatism as the only tenable unifying factor in the otherwise rather tense situation in the CDU/CSU."

Much of this tension revolves around the political ambitions of Franz Josef Strauss, Minister President of Bavaria, and head of the Christian Socialist Union (CSU), Bavaria's sister party to the national Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

This tension is heating up. Carstens is a good friend of Strauss, as is Richard Stucklen, the new president of the Bundestag. Only twenty-four hours after the election of "his" candidate Carstens as Federal President, Strauss announced his candidacy as future chancellor on the combined CDU/CSU slate. (National elections are due to take place sometime in 1980.)

The Bavarian strongman, known as a "kingmaker" within the CDU/CSU, may not win the candidacy slot, The much larger CDU faction has announced it will support Ernst Albrecht as the CDU/CSU candidate. The feeling is that Strauss may insist that the entire coalition move more right-ward toward his liking in order to retain his support, and as a condition that he not pull the CSU out and "go national" as a fourth party.

The West German newsweekly der Spiegel is wary of every Strauss move, ever since Strauss, as Defense Minister tried to block publication of a particular Spiegel issue in 1962 (the notorious "der Spiegel affair").

On the cover of its May 21 issue reproduced here for your interest, the magazine features a brooding, leering Strauss looming in the background behind Carstens. The cover title is: "Federal President Carstens; Federal Chancellor Strauss?" In its cover story, der Spiegel says the following: "With Karl Carstens as president of the Federal Republic of Germany and Richard Stucklen as president of the Bundestag, two Strauss friends are moving up into the highest offices of the republic. The CDU has long since lost its faith in its earlier candidate for chancellor, Kohl. As the savior of the CDU/CSU union and challenger of the chancellor, Strauss is becoming more and more inevitable.

"Strauss calls the election of Carstens a 'good sign' he hopes that the hour of the conservatives has come in Bonn. The advance of his favorites into the highest ranks could, so he figures, remove further the CDU's inhibitions, so that they wi1l give the kingmaker himself a try in 1980 as chancellor candidate Franz Josef Strauss.

"To the main themes of the election campaign, nuclear energy, external and internal security, only he could present believable alternatives."

Rudolf Augstein, der Spiegel's editor, also wrote an accompanying piece to the Strauss story. He said: "Whoever loves Strauss, Bavaria, the country and Europe, can only wish that the Bavarian will run. The population of the Federal Republic has a right... to finally decide eye to eye between a liberal Germany and a Germany of prejudices. Either the world steers without him toward certain oblivion or he knows a recipe we can trust.

"The CDU has permitted him to waste it to such a degree, that it does not deserve anything else than to lowly petition him to be a gracious protector king according to the slogan: 'Oh, Lord, whose lot is as sweet as the one of the slave to whom you give orders?"

Gene H. Hogberg, News Bureau

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Pastor General's ReportJune 04, 1979Vol 3 No. 21