The city of Stuttgart was preparing on Saturday (22 April) for its role in Sunday's (23 April) critical election to elect a new government in the prosperous but basically conservative southwest West German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The city of Stuttgart was preparing on Saturday (22 April) for its role in Sunday's (23 April) critical election to elect a new government in the prosperous but basically conservative southwest West German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The vote will virtually be a referendum on the national government's policy of conciliation with the communist east. This is because Baden-Wuerttemberg holds the key to the precarious balance of power in the Bonn Federal Parliament and the outcome could determine the fate of Chancellor Willy Brandt's left-liberal coalition.
Herr Brandt said on Saturday that he expected an encouraging result.
His Social Democratic Party (SPD) has presented that ballot as a choice between peace and cold war -- for or against his "Ostpolitik", as his East European policy is called.
The Baden-Wuerttemberg poll falls less than two weeks before a vital debate in the Bonn Parliament on goodwill treaties concluded by West Germany in 1970 with the Soviet Union and Poland. The Brandt Government has a four-vote majority in the Lower House, while the Upper House, in which Baden-Wuerttemberg holds the casting vote, has so far withheld its assent to the pacts.
The Christian Democrat (CDU) opposition is opposed to the treaties which commit Bonn to accept all European frontiers drawn after World War Two including the border partitioning Germany into two states.
Baden-Wuerttemberg is also a key state because it's a stronghold of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), Herr Brandt's indispensable coalition partner.
Locally Baden-Wuerttemberg is currently held by the Christian Democrats with 60 of the State Parliament's 127 seats.
National interest in the elections is very high, and blanket news coverage of the voting results is planned. To add to the interest, 18-year-olds will be able to vote in a state election in Baden-Wuerttemberg. It's reportedly expected that the young voters will be an asset to Herr Brandt.