A quick turnover for eastern politicians

Issue 

A quick turnover for eastern politicians

By Bryan R. Thomas

BONN — One by one the politicians from the old German Democratic Republic (GDR) have been ousted.

The majority of them had been elected as representatives of the five new Lõnder (states). The reasons for their hasty departures are accusations of past connections with the old state security apparatus, the Stasi or political misconduct; sometimes they are just elbowed aside.

With the exception of the Party of Democratic Socialism, (PDS) the dismissals or resignations have been internal party affairs. The Ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), the Social Democrats and the Liberal Free Democrats have all had their best eastern politicians toppled for one misdemeanour or another.

In the CDU alone three state premiers have been forced to resign since July 1991, two because of their past careers in the GDR. Their positions have been quickly filled by their western colleagues, much to the displeasure of the local electorate, who have no recourse but to wait until they go to the polls again in 1994.

Hans Modrow was the last prime minister of the GDR and is the latest victim. Modrow, who is a PDS member of the Bundestag, has been called the east German Gorbachev for his astute handling of the unification process. He has now been accused of ballot rigging.

The offence is said to have been committed during local elections in Dresden in May 1989, The ex-mayor of this city, Wolfgang Berghofer, was recently given a suspended jail sentence for his part in the affair but is to appeal against the verdict. The only charges against Modrow are based on testimony from the Berghofer trial.

The government seems to be almost paranoid about the PDS, party chairperson Gregor Gysi and Modrow. Scarcely a day goes by without the media trying unsuccessfully to discredit them for some alleged misdeed.

On March 19, the Bundestag voted to withdraw Modrow's parliamentary immunity in preparation for his trial. This action is considered by many to be a little premature, as he cannot face trial until Berghofer's appeal is heard later this year.

Three PDS members of the Bundestag and one independent attempted to defend Modrow. Gregor Gysi spoke of the "deliberate destruction of the political personality of Hans

Modrow". Two others, Andrea Lederer and Dagmar Enkelmann, were shouted down by the opposition after claiming that the proceedings were a sham.

Modrow also declared that, "the trial is a farce and an attempt to make the socialist idea a crime". To eastern Germans, sole purpose seems to be to destroy or defame the last personalities to whom they can relate — and the political left along with them.