East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere called today for unification with West Germany and joint elections in October, advancing the date by nearly two months to forestall economic collapse in the East.
De Maiziere told a news conference that his proposal for elections Oct. 14 instead of Dec. 2 was coordinated with West German Chancellor and fellow Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl at a meeting in Austria on Tuesday.
In Bonn, Kohl welcomed the proposal and said the two states should discuss soon how it could be organized in time.
"It corresponds to the wishes of people in both parts of Germany," Kohl said in a statement.
But De Maiziere's left-wing coalition allies, the Social Democrats, complained that they had not been consulted, and the Soviet Union warned that the plan would preempt a European settlement of unification's strategic aspects.
"For the historically important first all-German elections I propose the date of Oct. 14, the same day that regional elections (to restore five federal states in eastern Germany) are planned," De Maiziere said.
An October merger would occur just a year after East German Communist Party leader Erich Honecker resigned in the face of a pro-democracy uprising, ending 40 years of Stalinist autocracy.
De Maiziere said the resolution of foreign--mainly Soviet--objections to unification last month and East Germany's worsening economic crisis have telescoped the merger process.
"The pan-German election creates political clarity and thus economic security," he said.
"The faster that happens, the better for the restructuring of existing companies, for new investment and therefore for the creation of new jobs," De Maiziere said. "The last few days have shown this ever more clearly."