Roger L. Simon

Paralysis in Deutschland

The results of the German election do not augur well for change in that country where unemployment is double the U. S. Also, it seems the exit polls were slightly tilted in favor of Ms. Merkel.

With 298 of 299 districts declaring, the results showed Merkel’s Christian Democrats party with 35.2 percent of the vote compared to 34.3 percent for Schroeder’s Social Democrats. Voting in the final district, Dresden, was delayed until Oct. 2 because of the death of a candidate. But that outcome was not expected to affect the final result.

Merkel’s party won 225 seats, three more than the Social Democrats; the Free Democrats got 61, the Left Party 54 and the Greens 51. Germany’s legislature has at least 598 seats – but often more – elected under proportional representation from party lists. The outgoing parliament, for example, has 601 lawmakers.

Merkel’s preferred coalition partners – the pro-business Free Democrats – had 9.8 percent, leaving such an alliance short of outright victory. The Greens, the Social Democrats’ current governing partner, had 8.1 percent; together, the two parties failed to reach a majority, ending Schroeder’s government.

The Left Party had 8.7 percent of the vote, but Schroeder said he would not work with them. The overall election turnout was 77.7 percent.

Both Merkel and Schroeder said they would talk to all parties except the new Left Party, a combination of ex-communists and renegade Social Democrats.

One leading possibility: a linkup between her Christian Democrats and Schroeder’s Social Democrats, viewed by some as a recipe for paralysis in a country plagued by 11.4 percent unemployment.

Better news here.