Sunday, September 18, 2005

Democracy in Deutschland (addendum drei)

From the BBC:

Some predictions give the CDU the same number of seats as Gerhard Schroeder's centre-left Social Democrats (SDP).

Mrs Merkel, the pre-poll favourite to become chancellor, looks unlikely to be able to form her preferred coalition and may have to join with the SPD.

But Mr Schroeder has insisted that he has enough votes to remain as chancellor.

He said he could envisage a grand coalition of the two largest parties, but only if he was its leader.

Preliminary results -- in terms of popular vote -- are as follows (from German TV station ARD):

CDU/CSU: 35.4%

SPD: 34.2%

FDP: 10.0%

Left: 8.5%

Greens: 8.1%

Both sides are claiming victory. More or less. From the Deutsche Welle:

Should the early results hold into the night, it would mean the third-worst showing by the Christian Democratic Union in German postwar history. The result is a damming blow to the CDU, which waged an issues-oriented campaign focused on reforming Germany's economy to meet the challenges of globalization.

But:

Merkel said that her party, which just out-edged the SPD by only a few percentage points, has been given the responsibility of forming a new government. What that government will look like is anyone's guess.

In terms of the SPD, the coalition question isn't any more certain. The only clear guidelines given so far were regarding who would not be considered for a coalition... [SPD Chairman] Müntefering said his party would not form a coalition with the Left Party, which was recently formed by disgruntled SPD members in response to the government's reform plans. A coalition with the FDP, on the other hand, is still not entirely out of the question -- at least from the SPD stand point.

If the SPD, Greens and FDP joined forces it would be enough to form a majority coalition. The FDP, however, has rejected building a coalition with the SPD. Speaking on German public television in a post-election debate of party leaders, Schröder also ruled out a so-called "grand coalition" of SPD and CDU/CSU under the leadership of Angela Merkel.

But for the CDU, the only real viable option currently available if they want to build the next government is to form a grand coalition with the SPD. So far, that option has not been entirely ruled out, although only about 36 percent of the CDU voters have said they would endorse such a coalition.

So: uncertainty.

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