Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl spoke of a “joyous hour,” because the GDR citizens had voted against any form of extremism. He said that the SED’s successor party, the PDS, had been dealt a clear rejection. And that the people of the GDR had instead made it clear that they want to embark on a path, together with the Federal Republic, that leads to a unified Germany. At the same time, Kohl appealed to the citizens of the GDR: “Stay home.” Together with the Federal Republic, they should help “build up this wonderful country.”
SPD chancellor candidate Oskar Lafontaine (SPD) predicted a process of rethinking the promises made to the GDR. The CDU would “depart from its designated course, as it did with the issue of GDR resettlers.”* The SPD would keep watch, he said, to make sure that election fraud did not continue to occur.
After the initial prognoses about the results of the first free elections in the GDR, Minister President Hans Modrow sees his party, the PDS, as being in a “position where it’s possible to do something.” In his initial response, party chief Gregor Gysi said that the results show that the former SED has made “great progress in the process of renewal.” In the future, he said, the party wants to practice “modern, left-wing, and in particular socialist politics against monopolies and autocracy.”
The revolutionaries of November 9 were bitterly disappointed by the election returns. Wolfgang Ullmann of “Democracy Now” fears “a hurricane of national sentiment” gathering steam. In the eyes of writer Stefan Heym, after the election results, “nothing will remain of the GDR but a footnote in world history.” Heym continued: “The snake is swallowing the hedgehog; the snake will have digestive problems.” The elections, he said, were preceded by a revolution created by two groups. Whereas the first group stood up at great risk for a better GDR, the second group wanted to eliminate it and ultimately won.
In light of the election results, Konrad Weiß of the New Forum called for the SPD to “join us in the opposition.” Weiß was disappointed with the election results themselves but said he didn’t really reckon with more votes. “We don’t need hundreds in the Volkskammer to present our position.” Jens Reich spoke of successfully gaining attention for the citizens’ movements in the GDR, despite the fact that Alliance 90 received only three percent of the vote.
Foreign observers viewed the conservative victory with skepticism. The results were perceived as a “victory for the Deutschmark” and a “victory for Kohl” in both East and West. Reports said that a speedy unification of Germany could now be expected.
* GDR resettlers [Übersiedler] were GDR citizens who moved to West Germany – ed.
Source: “DDR-Bürger haben den Kohl fett gemacht. Sensationeller Wahlsieg für die ‘Allianz’” [“GDR Voters Hungry for All-You-Can-Eat Kohl-Slaw. Sensational Victory for the ‘Alliance’”], taz, March 19, 1989.
Translation: Allison Brown