West Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) has routinely approved Chancellor Helmut Schmidt's defense-and-detente policy. Its special party conference in Essen June 10 specifically endorsed both aspects of this two-edged policy: deployment in three years of new long-range theater nuclear weapons in West Germany and other NATO countries, and a commitment to serious efforts to achieve theater nuclear arms limitations.
Both items has been overwhelmingly approved at last December's SPD convention.
A rumored revolt by left-wingers in Essen aimed at reducing the defense and enhancing the detente component of West German foreign policy never material ized.
The 1980 campaign program as approved by the SPD conference states that the securing of peace is possible only in the context of the Western alliance. Without a military balance between East and West, it continues, detente cannot be realized.
In his own somber conference address June 9, Chancellor Schmidt repeated his proposal that both East and West forego deployment of new theater nuclear weap ons over the next three years as a sign of goodwill in their arms-control negotiations. NATO will not have any long-rnge theater nuclear weapons ready for de ployment before 1983 in any case. The Soviet Union, on the contrary, has been deploying such weapons for the past three years and has recently accelerated its deployment of the 3,000-mile-range mobile SS-20 missile from one a week to one every five days.
In a delberate attempt to cast himself as the judicious statesman and crisis manager against the more excitable conservative chancellor candidate Franz-Josef Strauss, Chancellor Schmidt avoided all tub-thumping -- and disappointed a number of the SPD delegates.
In domestic affairs the SPD conference raised the question of giving a vote in local elections to foreign workers resident in West Germany. Mr. Schmidt called this issue -- which previously has received little attention in West Germany -- the most important reform task of the 1980s. It could help the crucial integration of these 4 million people into West German society, Mr. Schmidt suggested.