The direct successors of the East German ruling party the Democratic Socialists won 23% of the vote in the 2001 Berlin election. With more than twice what they won soon after it was reunified in 1990, "they are now eager to form a coalition with the Social Democrats, whose 30% put them ahead of the Christian Democrats in the city for the first time in 26 years" (The Economist, 2001). The Economist noted that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder "is not keen to see his party cosying up to the heirs of the sorry regime that kept Germany—and its capital—divided for 40 years" - and Klaus Wowereit was apparently "keeping his options open".
[Wowereit] would have preferred to prolong his four-month-old coalition with the Greens. But the two parties did not win an overall majority. He has now started talks with the Free Democrats, with a view to a three-party coalition. Even that would give him only a five-seat majority. With the ex-communists, he would be 13 ahead. He is also reluctant to exclude a party supported by nearly half of all who voted in the former Soviet zone of the city. (The Economist, 2001)
East Berliners felt "they are treated as second-class citizens," The Economist claimed. The CDU had scored only 24% (17 points less than in the city elections two years earlier) and "The party's national leader, Angela Merkel, rushed to absolve herself of any blame... to become the centre-right's candidate for the chancellorship in next year's general election" (The Economist, 2001).
The Economist (2001) Berlin's election: Democracy, it's wonderful. [Online]