Social Democrats win German elections, early returns show

BONN, Germany (AP) — Gerhard Schroeder and his Social Democrats won national elections Sunday, ushering in the first change of government Germany has seen after 16 years of conservative rule under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the West’s longest-serving leader.
Unemployment, running above 10 percent, was the main campaign issue this year, and Schroeder has pledged to combat it primarily by opening dialogue between unions, industry and government officials.
He also has vowed to see through tax reforms that would relieve average wage earners, as well promising to restore modest social welfare programs cut by the Kohl government in an effort to trim the budget.