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Social Democrats Admit ‘mistake’ in Boosting Standing of Far Right

July 17, 1989
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The opposition Social Democratic Party, or SPD, conceded Sunday that it was a “terrible mistake” to have accepted a political strategy calling for tolerance and even support of the reputedly neo-Nazi Republican Party.

The rationale apparently was that the Republicans, headed by former SS official Franz Schoenhuber, would win votes at the expense of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, which the SPD would like to replace as West Germany’s governing party.

The Republicans emerged the fourth largest political party in the Federal Republic after winning 7.1 percent of the popular vote in last month’s elections to the Parliament of Europe.

A strategy paper, prepared for the SPD early this year, suggested it was in the SPD’s interest to enhance the Republicans to weaken the CDU.

The strategy paper was submitted to SPD leader Hans-Jochen Vogel, who, according to observers, quietly endorsed it.

Anke Fuchs, the SPD director, called the paper a “mistake” and insisted there was no way the party could have adopted its cynical thesis.

Gerhard Schroeder, SPD chief in the state of Lower Saxony, described it as a “terrible mistake” in an interview Sunday.


Both party leaders spoke after a Munichbased newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, published the contents of the SPD strategy paper on Friday.

A spokesman for the Greens, another opposition party, charged that the SPD was so frustrated being out of office that it considered power more important than anything else.

The CDU’s secretary-general, Heiner Geissler, called it a “massive attack on the democratic political culture in this country.”

Other CDU officials said the SPD was repeating the mistakes of the Weimar Republic, when mainstream parties spent more time fighting each other than the threat from extremists.

The Republicans are on the extreme right wing. According to political analysts, their language and programs increasingly echo those of established neo-Nazi groups.

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