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World Trend: Voters Reject Incumbents

Ire over `politics as usual' topples existing governments right and left

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SOME Democrats say President Clinton should focus on foreign policy and overseas tours now that Republicans have captured Capitol Hill. If he does, he may be in for a surprise: The United States has no monopoly on political anger. Election after election shows that a sour throw-the-yobs-out mood pervades rich democracies around the world.

The extent of recent ruling party reversals might actually make Mr. Clinton feel better. In France, President Francois Mitterrand's Socialists are limping along with only 54 National Assembly seats, down from 270 last year. Canada's Conservatives makes US Democrats look as strong as George Foreman. A year ago they ruled the country with 154 seats. Elections left them two. The Democrats may have suffered its worst electoral setback in some four decades, but at least there are enough of them left in Washington to fill a restaurant booth at lunchtime.

``The common denominator around the world is that people that have been in power for a long time are being tossed out,'' says Christopher Layne, a former Cato Institute senior analyst and international relations scholar.

In Italian elections last spring, for instance, voters disgusted by widespread corruption utterly repudiated the country's longtime ruling Christian Democrats. In a somewhat pathetic and fruitless bid for votes, Christian Democrat leaders went so far as to rename themselves the ``Popular Party.''

Similarly, in Japan an electorate tired of money politics last year ended the 38-year continuous rule of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The LDP has since returned to a measure of power - at the price of entering into a coalition with its longtime archrival, the Socialists.

Germany's Helmut Kohl managed to win reelection last month. But the man who presided over German reunification saw his parliamentary majority slashed from a 66-seat edge to a bare 10-vote advantage.


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