BONN (Apr. 28)
Two proven friends of Israel were elected to top leadership posts in the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) at its national convention in Munich. Johannes Rau, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state within the Federal Republic, was elected party vice chairman by a large majority of the 400 delegates.
Hans Jochen-Vogel, leader of the opposition in the West Berlin parliament, was elected to the SPD’s Central Committee, the most important political body within the party. Both Rau and Vogel have consistently demonstrated displeasure with the Bonn government’s pro-Arab policies. Last year, Rau demonstratively visited Israel at a time the press was reporting Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s refusal to do so despite an invitation of seven years’ standing.
Vogel, as a former Minister of Justice, has made important contributions to a much debated government initiative to tighten the laws against neo-Nazi activity. According to press reports, Vogel would be the most likely candidate for Chancellor if and when Schmidt resigns, and Rau is expected to succeed Willy Brandt as chairman of the SPD. Their ascent to leadership probably would open new perspectives for German-Israel relations.
But the consensus among political observers here is that the SPD has little chance to stay in power much longer and a change of government may come about even before October, 1984 when its term of office expires.