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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kohl Gets Party Nod To Mend Economy

LEIPZIG, Germany -- German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative Christian Democratic Union closed ranks Tuesday behind its veteran leader and endorsed his plans to reform the country's rigid economic structures.

Speaking to the CDU's annual party congress in Leipzig, a long list of regional and national party leaders warmly backed Kohl's proposals to improve Germany's competitiveness with less bureaucracy, lower taxes, education reforms and a firm commitment to European integration.

Burying all signs of dissent from rebellious delegates worried about the party's steep slide in opinion surveys, party leaders said there was no alternative to Kohl, who has ruled the CDU for 25 years and kept it in power for the last 15 years.

"We have the better concept for the future, we have the better team and we have Helmut Kohl," said CDU secretary-general Peter Hintze, who said the 67-year-old chancellor should stay in office until 2002 if he wins the September general election.

"We know what is needed to create jobs, to improve education, and to build a strong future for Europe," Hintze said. "Helmut Kohl's name has become a synonym in Germany and in Europe for stability, reliability, trust and responsibility."

But, with 11 months before the next general election, voter surveys have consistently shown Kohl's center-right government badly trailing a left-leaning alliance of opposition parties.

Against a backdrop of record unemployment, voters have grown frustrated at rising taxes and political gridlock in Bonn. But the bleak numbers haven't worried Kohl, who has often rallied from behind to win elections and embarrass pollsters.

They had, nevertheless, prompted a group of young party leaders dubbed the "Young Wild Bunch" to urge the CDU to make room for new leaders. In his keynote address on Monday, Kohl told the rebels to toe the line and the uprising quickly died.

German newspapers said Tuesday Kohl's call to arms, a blistering attack on the opposition Social Democrats, succeeded in quelling the rebellion for the time being, but failed to inspire the 1,001 delegates.

An Austrian fined for baring his behind at German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Austria two years ago has asked that Kohl appear in court to identify his bottom, Reuters reported from Vienna.

The man is appealing against a 4,400 schilling ($357) fine imposed after he and friends allegedly dropped their pants in front of the chancellor and his wife, Hannelore, as they vacationed near Salzburg in 1995.

The Austrian says a viewing by Kohl would prove it was not his bottom. The case has been adjourned.