Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title Elections in Berlin
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Tuesday,  Oct. 22, 1946
  • Issue Number 50588
  • Page Number 5
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Editorial
  • Publication Section Opinion and Editorial
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
Elections in Berlin The Berlin elections, which were held on Sunday, had a strictly local purpose-to choose a new city council and local councils for the twenty boroughs of the city. But Berlin's peculiar situation gave them greater significance. Four parties-the Social, Christian, and Liberal Democrats and the Socialist Unity Party-contested the elections; but they were in effect a plebiscite for or against the Communist Party and, by implication, for or against Russia. The Socialist Unity Party is in fact the Communist Party under a new name. It was formed last April, in Berlin and the Russian zone of Germany, by fusion of the formerly independent Communist and Social Democratic parties. A long campaign, for which the Communists supplied the motive force and in which the Russian occupying authorities were not disinterested, succeeded by questionable methods in manoeuvring the reluctant Social Democrats into accepting fusion. In the Russian zone they were completely absorbed. In Berlin they narrowly escaped the same fate; but a dissident section, disowning the party caucus which had accepted fusion, succeeded with British and American support in gaining four-Power recognition as a party legally entitled to function in Berlin. They formed the independent Social Democratic Party which gained nearly half of the votes cast last Sunday. In spite of many advantages in propaganda and organization, and of the fact that reasons less respectable than sincere conviction must have won them many votes, only a fifth of the Berliners supported the Socialist Unity Party. In the British and American sectors of Berlin, where more than half the total votes were cast, they received only just over a tenth. Four-fifths of all Berliners rejected Communism and-for this, too, was clearly in issue and must be recorded-rejected Russia too. It is an amply and even embarrassingly decisive result-embarrassing both to Russia and to Britain, America, and France as her colleagues in the joint administration of Berlin. For the harmony of allied relations in the control of Berlin it is perhaps unfortunate that a German electorate should have had the opportunity of recording so pointed a verdict. Yet there is a moral in the story for all the occupying Powers. For Britain and America the moral is that German Social Democrats will perhaps not always collapse so feebly in the face of threats as they did before those of the German nationalists and HITLER in 1932 and 1933. For the Russians the moral is plainer still. though .t 'ould be idle to express confidence that it will ibe heeded. Communism does not bow to a majority verdict, and will not readily take "no" for an answer. Russia is unimpressed by counting heads. Last year's elections in Hungary and Austria were as decisive rejections of Communism as the Berlin election, yet their effect was to sharpen, not moderate, Russian policy in those two countries.