West Berlin's political crisis could start a chain reaction undermining the Social Democratic-Liberal coalition that was reaffirmed by federal elections in West Germany only three months ago.
If not quickly resolved, the crisis also could undermine support for West Berlin among the taxpayers of West Germany, who provide about 65 percent of the former capital's revenue.
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, former Chancellor Willy Brandt, and their aides spent the weekend trying to desperately to save the situation short of an election they fear would end almost 30 years of Social Democratic rule in the city.
To make matters worse, Schmidt discovered that a telephone discussion of the crisis and his estimation of the abilities of the trouble-shooters he might send in had been published verbatim in a West Berlin newspaper.
Editors of Der Abend, a West Berlin newspaper, said someone had anonymously sent them a tape recording of Schmidt's conversation with Peter Glotz, future general secretary of the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Glotz confirmed the conversation, published Jan. 17, was authentic.
The crisis climaxed Jan. 15 when a dozen of Social Democratic Mayor Dietrich Stobbe's nominal supporters voted against four of his five nominees to fill top administrative posts. Stobbe resigned the same evening.
Schmidt and Glotz agreed that the West Berlin Party, ridden by scandal, may no longer be capable of producing a leader who could keep it in power.
According to the published excerpts, they discussed the merits of several of Schmidt 's Cabinet ministers and political lieutenants.