BERLIN, AUG. 22 -- The political bickering that has replaced euphoria over the impending unification of the two Germanys deepened today as leaders of both countries failed to resolve the prolonged battle over when to erase East Germany from the map.
The East German legislature tonight approved an election treaty with Bonn, voting, 295 to 74, to hold the first all-German elections since 1933 on Dec. 2.
But the battle over the date for reuniting Germany did not end, despite West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's demand that the East Berlin legislature pick a date today.
Tonight, East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere called a special session of the parliament to settle the question. "It is time that we end this tortuous discussion over the date," he said. East Germany, which elected its first non-Communist government five months ago, can end its 41-year history and join West Germany by a two-thirds vote of its parliament.
For weeks, politicians, parliaments and the press have offered and debated a dozen possible unification dates between now and the deadline, the Dec. 2 elections. The unity date debate has so dominated discussion here that even the Persian Gulf crisis often has been relegated to secondary status.
Each proposal is part of intense jockeying for position in the December elections and an attempt to convince the public that the two governments are trying to react to East Germany's desperate economic plight.
West Germany has been reluctant to fulfill the ever-growing stream of East German requests for additional money, and Western investors have held back pumping money into the bankrupt East German economy until Bonn asserts control and clarifies the legal rights of businesses in the East.
In chronological order, the following are the proposals, their backers and their reasons:
Immediate accession: East Germany's right-wing party, the German Social Union, along with some opposition leaders in Bonn, say that with unemployment jumping by more than 25,000 a week and industries collapsing daily, East Germany cannot hold out any longer without Bonn taking over.
"Even the most patient East German citizens are now looking forward to accession to West Germany at the earliest possible date," said the West Berlin newspaper Volksblatt. "They prefer a quick, painful end to endless pain."
There are powerful arguments against immediate unity, chief among them the fact that the four World War II powers, which retain legal rights over Germany, have not given official approval to German unity.
Sept. 15: Kohl's major opposition, the Social Democrats, favor this date because of the instability of the East German government. The Social Democrats also believe that the faster unity is accomplished, the easier it will be for Social Democratic campaigners to saddle Kohl with responsibility for conditions in the East.
Hans-Jochen Vogel, the Bonn party chairman, said Sept. 15 is the earliest possible unity date because the final talks on German unification among Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union are to take place in Moscow Sept. 12, when the Four Powers are expected to clear the way to unity.
Oct. 2-6: Kohl's spokesman said today that the chancellor favors "any date soon after Oct. 2," but the spokesman denied a report by Reuter news agency that Kohl said unity should come before East Germany's 41st birthday on Oct. 7.
Oct. 2 is the date foreign ministers of the 35 nations of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe are to meet in New York, where they will be asked to ratify the Four Powers' approval of unification.
Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher are seeking to emphasize the new Germany's commitment to its European allies rather than its postwar dependence on the countries that defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. Therefore, they want the CSCE meeting, rather than the Four Powers' decision, to serve as the main foreign act of approval for unification.
Oct. 6 is the first anniversary of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's warning to East German Communist Party leader Erich Honecker: "He who comes too late gets punished by life."
Oct. 14: Kohl and de Maiziere tried but failed earlier this month to advance both unification and the all-German election to this date. But the Social Democrats -- convinced that voters will turn against Kohl over the course of a difficult autumn -- defeated the move.
Until today, de Maiziere and Kohl maintained their support for Oct. 14 as the date for unity. The two leaders spoke this morning and shifted to an earlier date.
But some members of their parties -- along with several other East German parties -- still favor Oct. 14 because, as de Maiziere said Tuesday, it is the first time three conditions will have been fulfilled: the completion of a unity treaty with Bonn; the conclusion of the Four Powers' talks with the two Germanys, and finally, after local elections Oct. 14, the re-creation of East Germany's five states.
De Maiziere had proposed that the East German legislature meet on the issue on Oct. 9, the first anniversary of the massive demonstration in Leipzig that lit the fire of peaceful revolution that ended 40 years of Communist rule. The prime minister said he wanted to capture the spirit of the grass-roots groups that brought down Honecker.
Dec. 2: Until East Germany began its free fall in the weeks after the two countries merged their economies in July, unity and elections had been expected to come on the same day.
Now, only the former East German Communists, the left-wing Greens and Buendnis 90, the alliance of grass-roots groups that started the revolution, are inclined to wait until December. They dismiss as politics all the jockeying over earlier dates.