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Kohl's coalition in command

FEW imagined, only eight months ago, that the official start of the German election campaign ... would see Helmut Kohl in such a commanding position. All the pollsters pointed in January to ... a crushing general election defeat in October. Yet ... this political colossus once again dominates his country. The latest opinion poll gives his governing Christian Democratic Union coalition with the Free Democrats almost 50 percent of the vote, with the opposition Social Democrats trailing badly....

The chancellor has so often been underestimated and has so often triumphed by ``sitting out'' difficulties that there is a danger now of overestimating him, especially abroad, because he is so familiar. He does not make that mistake himself. The campaign is likely to be hard, turning increasingly - in the absence of new policies - on a personal contest between the leaders. The odds must be on another Kohl triumph.

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