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12 November 2003


Christian Democrat MP faces expulsion

HohmannBERLIN - A nationalistic German parliamentarian who has been accused of anti-Semitism refused to recant to caucus colleagues Tuesday, practically ensuring he will be expelled from the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Public outrage over a speech by the back-bencher, Martin Hohmann, has distracted attention from CDU efforts to capitalize on Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's weaknesses. Party leader Angela Merkel has insisted he be expelled from both the caucus and the party.

Analysts said he was likely to end up as an independent member of the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament in Berlin, representing his constituency of Fulda until his term ends in 2006.

Deputies said there was no sign he would have any support when a vote was taken this Friday [November 14, 2003].

In a speech on German Unity Day on 3 October, Hohmann said that if Germans were collectively guilty, so were Jews, because Jews led death squads during the Russian Revolution. The comparison, and the focus of the speech, has been widely rejected as offensive.

Participants at a caucus meeting Tuesday said Hohmann stated he could not recant without losing his credibility. He repeated his insistence that Germans do not bear "collective guilt" for the crimes of the Nazis.

Merkel retorted that this was the key difference between them. No one spoke up for Hohmann, though some at the two-hour closed-door meeting questioned the method of expulsion. The motion for his ejection describes his remarks as "anti-Semitic and unacceptable".

Germany's national council of Jews welcomed the impending ouster. Paul Spiegel, president of the council, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur Merkel's decision Monday came "late, but not too late".

"Hohmann's anti-Semitic expressions have left the CDU party and faction, for their own credibility, with no other choice," Spiegel told dpa. He added that the latest developments were "no reason for joy or malice. What has happened is too serious for this."

In addition to his ouster from the caucus, top party figures also want him expelled from the CDU itself. Roland Koch, the CDU premier of the state of Hesse, said he would apply to have Hohmann expelled. Hohmann is from the same state.

There has been little public support for Hohmann, though the CDU mayor of Fulda, Gerhard Moeller, attacked the party, saying Hohmann had initially been given a second chance and there was no "plausible" reason for the party to change its mind. -- DPA

Herrn M d B Martin Hohmann
Deutscher Bundestag
11011 Berlin

Tel.: 030 / 227 74206
Fax: 030 / 227 76725



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