September 18, 2005

IR -German Election Report

German Election Report, from Deutsche Welle English Language Service, 9/18/05

Returns show that the conservatives, widely tipped to sweep into the chancellery, don't have a majority. But neither do Schröder's Social Democrats. One projection gives the two parties the same number of seats.
For several minutes, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stood at the podium, unable to quiet the wild cheers and applause of the party faithful gathered at the Social Democrats' Berlin headquarters.
He clutched his hands above his head in a victory gesture and, after finally calming his supporters made a claim for four further years as chancellor.
"I am certain that there will be a government under my leadership in the next four years," Schröder said.
He faces serious hurdles, however. The coalition government his SPD formed with the Green party for seven years is no longer mathematically possible.
The SPD, however, has played a powerful game of catch-up from the early days of the campaign, when it trailed the CDU by close to 20 percentage points.
The latest election night projections by the Forsa polling group gave the Social Democrats 34 percent of the vote, a drop of around 4.5 percent from the 2002. However, it was only one percentage point behind the CDU/CSU. The Greens claimed 8.1 percent.
Traffic-light coalition?
Experts say the only possibility would be a so-called "traffic light" coalition with the SPD, Greens and the free-market liberal FDP, which surprised everyone by garnering 10.1 percent of the vote.

FDP leaders, however, said they would rather stay in opposition than join a government with Schröder and the Greens.
"We don't have the majority for the innovative, necessary reforms needed to change our country," said FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Gerhardt. "That holds us up and it holds the country up."
For weeks, the CDU and FDP had been planning a coalition government that would take an aggressive approach to trimming Germany's bloated welfare system and reforming the labor market to encourage investment and growth. With the CDU only winning 35.5 percent of the vote, such a coalition is now impossible.
"While Germans understand that they need fundamental economic reform, if they want to tackle unemployment, they don't want radical economic reform and don't want to give up their benefits," said Karen Donfried, senior director of the German Marshall Fund in Washington D.C. in an interview with DW-WORLD. "I think Schröder was able to play very well off of that."
Options limited

CDU leader Angela Merkel said her party, after claiming the majority share of the vote, has been given the job of forming a government. But her options are just as limited after an election night that surprised many Germans.
"I was astonished," said Oliver Suchy, at the SPD headquarters. "I never thought the CDU would have done so badly. I think in the last two weeks, people started realizing what the CDU program really meant and it was too radical for them."
The Social Democrats had slashed the CDU's early lead in half by last week. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder put in extra campaign speeches in a bid to sway undecided voters, reportedly about a quarter of the electorate, just days before the poll.
"Grand Coalition" possibility unfavorable

The big question remained whether Merkel would secure her preferred alliance or be forced into an awkward "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats. Experts and industry heads have warned that such a coalition could halt necessary reforms through political infighting.

Merkel said she was willing to talk with "any democratic party" about coalition possibilities, no longer ruling out liaising with the SPD. The grand coalition would put her in the chancellery and likely mean the end of Schröder's political career.

Voter turnout slightly down on 2002
Tens of millions of Germans voted on Sunday but despite sunny weather across the country, voter turnout was slightly lower, at 78 percent of eligible voters, than in 2002, when 79.1 percent of the 62 million Germans eligible to vote turned out.


Blogger The Boy Who Heard Music said...

What an astounding Blog you have created. I find it better reading than IHT.

I am simply writing to thank you for your comments. I do have an editor, but I have only let her work partly into this because I want to keep it close to me for a while.

Faber and Faber have suggested they MIGHT publish it later as a book, or perhaps as part of a replublished HORSES'S NECK (my first and only book so far).

Pete Townshend

4:46 PM  
Blogger Vendelascity said...

Pete... thanks for the comment on my blog. I must admit that when I first saw your name as author of the comment, I thought it was from Townshend, so my heart skipped a beat! Yes, you probably followed my link from comments I've posted on his or Rachel Fuller's site (and I've also been communicating with Justin Kreutzmann, the son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who I followed from his post on Rachel's.) I've been blogging for four years but have never experienced quite this sort of thing (dialoguing with people in the world of Rock 'n Roll; being 41, fan worship is such a part of my past but, evidentally, still part of my genetic makeup, I suppose!) I noticed that Mr. Townshend has taken the time to read your blog and that is quite a stamp of approval! I will return here and read more as time permits. Best to you and keep on blogging!

11:29 PM  

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