Source: Die Republikaner election campaign poster: © Bundesbildstelle. CDU election campaign poster: © KAS/ACDP, Plakatsammlung.
Starting in 1979, in an effort to strengthen the institution’s democratic legitimacy, representatives to the European Parliament were directly elected every five years. Voter participation in the Federal Republic still remained low, however: 65.7% (1979), 56.8% (1984), and 62.8% (1989). When these figures are compared with voter participation rates in Bundestag elections – 88.6% (1980), 89.1% (1983), and 84.3% (1987) – it is clear that elections to the European Parliament were perceived as having less political significance. The CDU/CSU narrowly won the European elections on June 18, 1989, with about 38.8% of the vote. The Republican Party, founded in 1983, performed relatively well, receiving 7.3% of the vote. Under the leadership of its founder and chairman, Franz Schönhuber, the Republican Party represented right-wing extremist and xenophobic positions; it also incited populist agitation against the European Community. The Republican Party election poster reproduced below (top image) features a picture of Schönhuber. The poster reads: “In Germany’s Interest: Yes to Europe, No to this European Community. Priority to German Interests.” The CDU poster (bottom) features Helmut Kohl and reads: “In German Interests: Yes to Europe. The Christian Democrats are building Europe.“