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German elections Monday, 28 September, 1998, 01:14 GMT 02:14 UK
Kohl concedes defeat
"It's been a difficult evening"
Helmut Kohl, the chancellor that ruled Germany for the last 16 years, conceded defeat on Sunday just an hour after exit polls showed his principle challenger Gerhard Schroder had a 5% lead.

He also announced he would step down as chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, a post he has held for a quarter of a century.

"The SPD has won," he said. "The voters have clearly opted for red-green"

'We accept the decision of the voters'

"It has been for us a difficult evening, naturally for me. I first want to thank everyone who has worked so hard for us in this election campaign," he said.

"I thank all of those who have helped me over the last 16 years, also abroad. Many helped pave our way because they were our partners and friends.

"It was a great time. We achieved a lot. But, as democrats, we accept the decision of the voters

"Life goes on."

'I take full responsibility'

"All of you supported me in this, and I have already thanked you. Thus it is also clear that I take responsibility for the election defeat, without any ifs or buts. There can be no quibbling about this defeat.

And of course I draw the consequences for myself.

We will discuss this tomorrow in the party executive. I will ask the executive to assume, at the forthcoming party conference, that I will not be available to stand for re-election as party chairman.

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Chancellor Kohl's rule in pictures
See also:

27 Sep 98 | German elections
28 Sep 98 | Europe
27 Sep 98 | Europe
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