Kirch ally Stoiber bidding for power in Germany

GERHARD SCHROEDER has been Chancellor of Germany since the elections in September 1998 but this year the Social Democrat leader is to be challenged for power by Dr. Edmund Stoiber, the Christian Socialist who is the Minister-President of Bavaria.

Stoiber has enjoyed tremendous success in Bavaria since he took power, nurturing big business and building up a successful high-technology industry in the Munich area by offering state aid to companies. Bavaria is booming while other areas of Germany continue to struggle with economic problems stemming from the unification of Germany in 1990. Stoiber has suffered considerable criticism for his support of Leo Kirch, the Bavarian media magnate who now owns the commercial rights to Formula 1 racing. When Germany's commercial banks would not support Kirch, Stoiber came to his aid with the support of the local Landesbank.

Before he can challenge Schroeder for power, however, Stoiber has to win the support of the Christian Democrat party which leads the opposition to the socialist Schroeder. His chief opponent will be Angela Merkel, an East German who is now leader of the Christian Democrats.

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