A gung-ho Chancellor Kohl tries to rouse W. Germany

West Germany's new Christian Democrat-Liberal coalition government is not simply planning to put the country's economy and finances in order.

It has promised ''an historic new beginning'' second only to its rebuilding after the war.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl's ''policy of renewal,'' which he presented to the Bundestag Oct. 13, is aimed at the nation's morale as well as the economy.

He wants ''less government, more self-reliance,'' more initiative, confidence , a greater sense of community, solidarity, and willingness to make sacrifices. ''We need again the virtues of wisdom, courage, and moderation,'' he said.

West Germany, Chancellor Kohl believes, is not only experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history but also is going through a ''spiritual and political crisis'' of uncertainty, perplexity, and fear.

He appealed to each individual West German to ''support us in our efforts to overcome the crisis and awaken new confidence.''

Dr. Kohl's speech seemed a much paler reflection of President Reagan's approach. He considers himself the ''ordinary man's'' politician, prides himself on his provincialism, and scorns the intellectuals who deride his homespun style.

But initial reactions were mainly skeptical. ''Inspiration,'' sniffed the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten, ''was not aroused.''

''Are rhetoric, inspiration, and rousing talks what we really need?'' asked the Stuttgarter Zeitung.

The Social Democratic opposition called them ''big words which will not solve problems.''

Even the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine, which has strongly supported the change of government, remarked soberly, ''This government will be assessed by its succy4 mtarting an economic recovery.''

Dr. Kohl came to power two weeks ago because the Liberals swiuched allegiance , no through winning elections. At present there is l)ttle trace of the emotional sning to neoconservatism that swept President Reagan and Britain's Margabet Thatcher to power.

The chancellor was evidently seeking to stir up such a movement in time for the elections he has promised for March 6.

Dr. Kohl's main aims are to encourage private investment, cut welfare spending, improve relations with the United States, and maintain continuity in foreign and security policy.

With only five months in which to act before the elections, the government plans to increase the value-added tax and raise a compulsory interest-free loan from higher income groups to finance incentives for investment.

A main target will be the building industry and the development of cable television and satellite communications. ''New services'' in television vaguely mentioned by Dr. Kohl appear to mean highly controversial private, commercial TV stations, which do not yet exist in West Germany.

At the same time he plans cuts in welfare that will affect pensioners, the sick, the unemployed, and poorer students.

His black picture of West Germany's economic problems - ''the worst crisis in the history of the Federal Republic'' and ''staggering'' state debts - combined with his call for sacrifices obscured the fact that West Germany's crisis is less serious than most of its other Western neighbors and that his remedies are less drastic than elsewhere.

Dr. Kohl aims to ''free German-American relations from the twilight'' that he believes has befallen them, and strengthen and stabilize the friendship.

He plans to go to Washington before the end of this year with the purpose of encouraging more exchanges on all levels.

His Western alliance and foreign policy is almost a carbon copy of Mr. Schmidt's, down to the assurance of berechenbarkeit, or calculability at all times. ''A wavering poitioR is ortally dangerous for the Federal Republic,'' he said.

He gave a clear assurance that NATO's new medium-range nuclear missiles will be stationed in West Germany if the US-Soviet missile reduction negotiations in Geneva do not produce results.

He aims for genuine detente, active efforts for peace, disarmament at the lowest possible level, a military balance, and cooperation with West Germany's communist neighbors.

Relations with the Soviet Union will continue to be developed. Trade, he says , is an important part of East-West relations. He has made no specific mention of the Soviet-West German pipeline project but is known to oppose President Reagan's sanctions against it.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.