BONN (May. 7)
Finance Minister Helmut Schmidt has been nominated to succeed Willy Brandt as West Germany’s next Chancellor. Brandt resigned late last night after accepting political responsibility for negligence in the Bonn espionage scandal, in which a Brandt aide, Guenter Guillaume, was arrested on April 24 on charges of spying for East Germany.
Schmidt is a tough hard-liner in the right wing of the Social Democratic Party. Some observers fear his election, expected on May 16, will encourage a drift to the right in German politics, and that Brandt’s departure could bring internal political instability. Like Brandt, Schmidt is a good friend of Israel. He is expected to continue. Brandt’s “balanced policy” in the Middle East, developing relations with the Arabs, but not at Israel’s expense. This has been the hallmark of Brandt’s Middle East policy since 1969.
Bonn was stunned by Brandt’s resignation. Shock has also come from behind the Iron Curtain, with Communist countries blaming his departure on a personal campaign from the extreme right in West Germany, especially from the Bavarian Christian Socialist Union. Others see Brandt’s resignation as an education in democracy and courage for West German politicians who normally prefer to cling to their seats. (By Allan Ritchie)