15 MARCH 1975, Page 3

New German trend

Following his reverse in the Berlin elections, West Germany's Chancellor Schmidt has suffered a further setback in state elections in Rhineland-Palatinate. Thus, even under the supposedly strong Herr Schmidt, the decline of the Social Democrats begun under the weak Herr Brandt continues. Next year Germany must face a general election. The whole trend of German local elections suggests that the Christian Democrats have an excellent chance of returning to Federal power in 1976. This possibility is important for two reasons. First, those who favour Britain's continued membership of the EEC have been trying to persuade the British public that Herr Schmidt is as much of a fixture as Herr Brandt once appeared to be: clearly he is not. Second, members of the British Labour Party will readily agree that a Germany run by Herr Schmidt is a much more agreeable partner than a Germany run by an as yet unknown Christian Democrat Chancellor. There is more political uncertainty on the Continent than we realise; and that uncertainty ought to be taken into account in our June decision on whether or not to remain in the EEC.