Kohl's Miscues on the Road to Reunification

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SEVERAL attacks on foreigners throughout Germany every day; demonstrations and riots against immigrants; arson and murder directed by neo-Nazi Germans against foreigners, the disabled, and gays; the rapid rise of right-wing political parties and increasing disgust with the politics of democratic compromise and tolerance.

In Germany, the word "Politikverdrossenheit" (disgust with politics) has become the editorial catchword to capture the dark and bitter mood that prevails throughout the country. Its most recent manifestation came in elections Sunday in the German state of Essen, where the extreme right Republican Party won 8.3 percent of the vote, up from less than 1 percent four years ago.

Events in Germany are at least partially the result of two fundamental mistakes made by Chancellor Helmut Kohl three years ago, one economic, the other political. Both are closely connected.