Many evangelical Christians have been caught off guard by the sweeping changes in national leadership as a result of the September 27 German election that saw Helmut Kohl, his conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and allied parties lose power after 16 years. Along with the CDU's sister Bavarian party, the Christian Social Union, Kohl and company received only 35 percent of the vote, down 6 percent from the 1994 election.

The triumphant Social Democrats (SPD), with Gerhard Schroeder at the helm, gained 4.5 percentage points from 1994 results to win 41 percent of the national vote. The SPD immediately began building a coalition government with, for the first time, the environmental Green party. Together, those two parties achieved a majority in the new 669-seat federal Parliament.

The media-friendly Schroeder, 54, won over voters by pointing to high unemployment and suggesting that the 68-year-old Kohl had clung to power too long. With similar arguments, the Party of Democratic Socialism—the successor to the former East German Communist party—cleared the 5 percent hurdle necessary to be represented in Parliament.

In the wake of defeat, CDU leaders, one by one, dropped out to make way for a younger generation to modernize and reform the party that affirms a commitment to Christian values and a "Christian understanding of people and the knowledge of God's good creation."

The personal morality of the candidates did not play a role in the election. Schroeder, a Marxist-turned-moderate, is married for the fourth time.

EVANGELICAL RESPONSE: Many evangelicals, who represent only 3 percent of Germany's 81 million people, are concerned about an SPD-Green government. They say Christian values, especially the unique ...

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