Helmut Kohl on the Campaign Trail (July 29, 1998)
Although the general public had grown weary of Helmut Kohl (CDU) – federal chancellor since 1982 – he persisted in running as the CDU’s top candidate in the 1998 Bundestag election. But his campaign strategy proved flawed and lacking. Whereas Wolfgang Schäuble, head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary faction in the Bundestag, wanted to engage the opposition on issues, Kohl and CDU General Secretary Peter Hintze called for a confrontational campaign between their camp and their political opponents—the SPD, the Greens, and the PDS. Another problem was poor communication between the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU. Finally, the attempt to portray SPD chancellor candidate Gerhard Schröder as an empty media phenomenon failed, not least because the CDU paradoxically focused on Kohl’s popularity in the critical phase of the campaign. This photo shows Chancellor Kohl shaking a small boy's hand at a CDU election rally on the boardwalk in Westerland (Sylt). Photo: Kay Nietfeld.