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Comments

Thanks for keeping up with this, guys. My kids and wife are hogging the TV. I hope ZDF is more correct than the upper graph.

It was absolutely shameful that Schroeder used katrina as an example
Not only did he bash America needlessly, he got things fundamentally wrong.

It took three days for Bush to make corrective actions in some of areas where
immediate aftermath was not well managed.
Otherwise, America shined in the aftermath of this disaster, with generosity that
aided transplanted hundreds of thousands; of particular note, the Republican-led state
of Texas, surely a state that Germany would consider a bunch of cowboys, took in over
a quarter of a million evacuees, is now giving schooling to 30,000 displaced children,
charities, churches and philantropic groups and individuals are taking people into their
homes and helping them out. This is aside from herioc US military and Coast Guard rescuing
thousands from rooftops.

Those who see the end of America in the ever-present failure of Government to be nimble and to have perfect foresight miss the real story: America's strength is in her citizens, not her Government; and America's vice of lacking foresight is over-matched by her virtue of adaptability, flexibility and resiliency. Those who believe that only order and Government dictate can solve problems will never understand this, and they will always be surprised by America's continued success. Katrina exposed, in the end, America's strength, not her weakness.

Here's a clear difference between Germans today and Americans:
In America, we are not afraid to make changes to things that are broken;
even if the fixes aren't perfect, a positive change is better than no change.

After seven years of failure of the Social Democrats, some Germans apparently are
afraid and unwilling to change. They will refuse to admit mistakes, make
corrective action and do the tough things. I cannot believe SPD got even 15% of the vote,
with such a horrible economic record to run on.

I feel sorry for Germans that fall for the lies
of Schroeder and his SPD, lies that will keep Germany in the mire of high unemployment and
mediocrity. If they look to America and think this is a model they
What German lacks today most of all is courage - the courage to cut loose from the failed
social democratic model and welfare-statism.

Niko,

Stop light then?

Who will lead this group of parties?

Dark times ahead for Europe. All options on the German table are bad. The grand coalition will introduce a number of gradualist policies that will not work and will increase tendencies towards protectionism and produce more extremism. The red+red+green coalition will, after 50 years, once again made Germany a threat to European peace and stability. The Linke projects negativism and hatred that the world has not seen in Germany since the days of Adolf Hitler and red terrorism. Perhaps for freedom loving Europeans the time is right to start thinking about a green card.

@Niko

Apologies if you've mentioned it before, but are you German, living here or in US, or are you American, again living here or in the States?

Thanks for your analysis of Aug10, being on vacation at the time, I missed it. You put quite some work into that.

@ Niko,

I can see why the FDP would want a seat at the table, and so would prefer a Red-Green-Yellow (hey, it's a traffic light!) coalition to a Grand Red-Black one. Don't you think though that the SPD and the Greens, after railing so hard against "neo-liberalism," would suffer politically for admitting the FDP?

Merkel is a disaster. This wouldn't have happened if the CDU had opted for Christian Wulff as chancellor candidate. He's the most popular politician in Germany, even more popular than Schroeder. They have a staffing problem and they have given away victory.

I'm afraid Nico is right.
I voted CDU but the FDP will jump ship and join Schröder.
It looks like the current coalition will just be broadenend.

@Niko:

I disagree that the politics of status quo would leave German economy relatively unharmed. In fact it would further devastate living standards and lead to more totalitarian extremism (i.e. threats to democracy like the Linke).

I know classical liberalism pretty well and under no conditions I see FDP in the coalition with SPD - they would break apart first.

So...good luck with Neuwahlen.

The only good of the situation is that the CDU can block all idiotic constellations with their majority in the Bundesrat.

But I wouldn't put it past the weasle Schröder to get elected by the Communists.
You have to keep in mind that the SPD rules Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern together with them.
His lip service as regards his distance from them isn't worth a damn.
He would sell his grandmothers soul to stay in power.

@All who are reading from the US:

19:50 (13:50 EST)

The situation could not be more confused: almost all constellations are possible at this stage. The numbers for the SPD are creeping over 34%, with the CDU/CSU hovering around 35.3%, the FDP about 10.1%, Greens 8.1%, Linke (New left) 8.5%.

Up in the air at this stage.

Everybody is claiming victory.

Amazing that Germans would keep shooting themselves in the foot just because they hate the Americans so. Even in the comments section of Medienkritik, where Germans are exposed to the possibility that what they are being fed in the standard media is not quite accurate, some persist in seeing Merkl as the negative campaigner, rather than Schroder, who for the second time rallies his base at the last minute with nothing more than anti-Americanism. Amazing.

Germans have a century-long tradition of believing what their newspapers and fashionable writers tell them. How has that worked out for y'all? You think because you have been believing a different kind of person who makes you feel really good about being a German -- as opposed to those ignorant other countries -- that you are doing something different? The German media and intellectuals have gotten it wrong in the 1910's, 1930's, 1960's, and 1980's.

Please forego the standard, "well, you Americans..." response. I think I've heard it one or two times. I'm writing from an Eastern European perspective on this one -- and yes, I have the right. It is those countries who hold the 20th C against you -- not for a few mad years, but beginning to end.

@ NotForSale

Exactly - Merkel IS a huge disaster for the conservatives. Wulff is dynamic and young - Merkel is weak and does not fit to lead a country.
Hopefully there will be a coalition with Schroeder leading (so most likely a traffic light coalition).

The FDP (yellow) has rejected this idea in early statements - but I think after they achieved such a great result, they rather want to take part in the government than wasting more years in the opposition.

How about the FPD dealing with employment and economical politics, the SPD dealing with foreign and inner politics and the Greens dealing with ecological and family stuff ? That would sound ok so far I would say.

Seems as if the polls in germany were as off as much as the ones in the last US election.

Will be reading about how deeply divided the germans are for the next few years?

Schroeder has said NO to a Grand coalition.

Well who's to say-Shroeder could not have went to the Kerry-Schrum school of stack the exit polls-which had the idiot media declaring Florida for Kerry. Florida which in the end- when the REAL votes were counted- went for Bush by OVER 300,000.

What is the margin of error for these exit polls?

I cannot find it listed anywhere-but believe you me there is ALWAYS a margin of error-and have politicians and strategist learned to game the media's exit polls?

YOU BET.

Wait for the actual count.

@madawaskan

This is the actual count. It's 20:45 here in Germany. Polls closed almost 3 hours ago.

Schroeder has rejected a Grand Coalition.

@ all Americans:

I am a young (23 years old) and good educated (University degree) German . Is there any chance that you can use me? Okay, I have to improve my English but how difficult will it be to immigrate to the US? For the beginning a green card would be cool...later more...

Niko FDP Already said NO to traffic light coalition-red-green-yellow.

Why in the heck is the actual count being labeled as exit polls still by Spiegel's live blog?

@madawaskan: "Niko FDP Already said NO to traffic light coalition-red-green-yellow."

Not only that, but we have a number of friends who normally vote CDU, but who in this election voted FDP. They will be apoplectic if they were to awake tomorrow to discover they had helped re-elect Schroeder!

LIVE NEWS BLOG

The Latest News on Germany's Parliamentary Elections

SPIEGEL ONLINE is reporting live throughout the evening on the latest developments in Germany's chancellor race. Check back here for up-to-the-minute developments until the election has been called.

+++ German Pollster: Only 1 Point Difference Between SPD and CDU/CSU +++

(20:07) According to one Germany's leading polling firms, Forsa, commissioned by cable news station N-TV, the Social Democrats are now just one percentage point behind the Christian Democrats. According to Forsa's latest forecast, the SPD has gained 34.

Hi -

Been lurking for a while, time to comment.
I don't think anyone here will disagree that Schroeder is absolutely determined to remain Chancellor. Given that the FDP has clearly stated they will not join a government with him and that Schroeder has clearly said that he will be Chancellor in any government that the SPD joins, the implications are clear:

Red-Green-Red

It keeps him and most of his cronies in power; he has to put up with Lafontaine, but much of their public disagreements were, as far as I can see, show.

Given the choice between having to deal with the CDU/CSU as the minority partner, and getting to be the major partner in a Red-Green-Red coalition - there are Red-Red local governments - Schroeder is too much of a power freak *not* to be the big fish in the pond.

Bluntly, this is one of the worst possible election results. The only concievable alternative as bad would have been a triumphant Red-Green.

This means that not only will Germany avoid addressing its severe structural problems, but it emboldens those whose blatant and crude anti-americanisms will now be percieved as not having any negative effects.

A sad day for Germany indeed...

@madawaskan: "Why in the heck is the actual count being labeled as exit polls still by Spiegel's live blog?

They probably mislabelled the text. The current results are still a forecast because they have to extrapolate out the partial results as the counting continues.

SeanM

I'm not a huge fan of proportional representation-especially in situations like this where the party leaders can play Let's make A Deal and the real intent of the voters is not even ascertained.

Your friends' case illustrates that- Ugh!

@John F. Opie

The only combination that I believe has not been ruled out is CDU/CSU+FDP+Greens. But I am in the camp that believes that all pre-election promises are now null and void: anything is possible but I believe the SPD is in the strongest position to bargain because even if they do not join with the Linke, they can use them as a bargaining chip to get the best result out of the Greens and FDP. The end result is to govern while giving away the smallest number of cabinet positions to the smaller coalition partners.

Can someone illuminate me about the foreign policy positions of FDP? They are always defined in terms of their domestic "pro-business" stance, but where do they stand regarding relations with the US, War on Terror, EU membership for Turkey, Iraq War, etc.? And if they become part of some coalition one way or the other, will their position have any influence on actual German foreign policy?

@zombie: "Can someone illuminate me about the foreign policy positions of FDP"

According to the French analyst Jean François Revel:

"If you remove anti-Americanism, nothing remains of French political thought today, either on the Left or on the Right." Revel might just as well have said the same thing about German political thought or the thought of almost any Western European country, where anti-Americanism reigns as the lingua franca of the intellectual class.

Take it seriously!

"And if they become part of some coalition one way or the other, will their position have any influence on actual German foreign policy?

Yes it will, but not in the direction you're hoping. Read Nico's link above to his comments on this blog from August 10th.

@SeanM

You're right: however, the Greens only will agree to this if Joschka remains foreign minister.

And that makes it absurd. No CDU/CSU/FDP grouping could contemplate continuing Green politics, especially environmental and economic policies, let alone foreign policy.

That's why I'm calling it a Red-Green-Red election, with Schroeder as chancellor, repugnantly rejoicing in his "confirmation", with Fischer et al keeping their jobs. They'll give the economics and employment ministry to Lafontaine and co to keep them busy and to have someone to blame when the economy doesn't perform better.

I'm writing some stuff up at my blog http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/ regarding my take on the election. Take a look in an hour or so...:-)

John

I agree with SeanM - I don't see the FDP going in with the SPD. That is, not if they want to avoid the wrath of those who helped them get 10% of the vote.

@John

That's not what I said

Germans Refuse to Choose.

@ Markus

If you want to immigrate to the US, the easiest way would be to apply for a graduate program at an American university. This is a standard "back-door" to American citizenship that I have personally known several German students take. If you just want to get out of Germany for whatever reason (employment most likely given your age) you might do well to consider Australia. The Australian government has actually been advertising in the European media trying to attract educated immigrants.

Now this from Spiegel's live blog-

Forsa sees SPD as the strongest faction +++

(9:23 p.m.) The Forsa Institute sees the SPD as the strongest faction in the German parliament. In a projection for the TV network N-TV it claims 223 seats for the SPD and only 220 for CDU/CSU

This is going to be a mess.

Well, this has to be disappointing for the CDU. At a time of economic stagnation and national doubt, they can't manage to beat the governing party by more than 1%.

Still, they made some progress since the last election, and the FDP has made up some ground.

Basically, I think a red/green/red coalition makes the most sense politically. I think that the FDP would be cutting it's throat with it's voter base if it joined the current red/green coalition. They could get a few ministerial posts in this government, but they would lose half their vote in the next election--there are way too many people who voted FDP that would think that joining the current coalition (and having to REALLY water down their free market philosophy, since that is what Schroeder ran against this campaign) would be too big a sell-out to bear.

So, Germany has had a leftist government, which got the country into economic trouble, and what happens as a result? A more leftist government. Doesn't seem to make sense to me, but then I can safely view this from the safety of the other side of the Atlantic.

@Markus

If you take Jason's advice, do not apply for a Fullbright scholarship - it may require you to return to your home country on completion of your studies.

Also, note that many graduate schools will even provide stipends to cover tuition and living expenses for at least the first year. If you have excellent undergraduate results, even the top private schools offer scholarships. It is a way into the States, but not the easiest. The easiest requires you to have personal investment capital. It used to be $500,000 available to invest. I don't know what it is today. Be aware that you are ineligible to enter the US on a student visa if your intention is to immigrate.

Many Germans are flocking to Australia.

(My knowledge might be dated)

Sarkozy in France is not going to be sleeping so well tonight.

@Niko

Is it your belief that she would have performed better if she'd taken a more pro-US position?

Like we say in the States....

Balk.

That is what the Germans have done, balked. Slaves to the state.

Shame.

Great-could be tied-

19:52 UTC
Parliamentary Parity Possible
When the overhang seats are figured into the equation, the SPD could come out tied with the CDU in terms of seat distribution in the Bundestag, according to predictions put forth by German public broadcaster ARD. A complicated system of calculating both direct votes for candidates and indirect votes for political parties could produce a 223-seat parity in the parliament. An optimistic interpretation could show the SPD receiving 10 overhang seats to bring the party up to 223 in the Bundestag, while the CDU/CSU could expect to receive three overhang seats to bring their numbers up to 223 as well.
In the unlikely event this would happen, both parties would still lack an outright majority to form a coalition government on their own.

I do find it interesting how germans tend to personalize things .. like GWB or Blair, etc. Americans do not. I am not sure about the other European nations.

I guess this is just from having a different culture and a different prespective. Who ever is the chancellor will represent all of germany and all germans not just the ones who voted for him.

I am not sure how you seperate the leader from the nation he/she leaders. I realize that for the last few years germans have been trying to convience Americans that you can do this.

My Goodness - has anyone seen the "Elephantenrunde" in the ARD at 8:15 pm ?

The leaders of all parties that made it into the new Bundestag were sitting together. It was amazing how they talked to each other.
Has anyone seen Schroeder in this debate? He said he is going to remain chancellor in a Grand Coalition even if the conservatives get more votes than his SPD, simply because the people clearly want him to lead the country as considerable might that others have to consider. He openly said Merkel is unable to lead - but the people know he is!
He said there in case of a possible Grand Coalition is no way for the conservatives but to accept him as chancellor.

I ve never ever seen a german politician to be so convinced of his ability to lead our country before.
My guess is that he became euphoric when he was talking to the SPD members shortly after the elections were over: Has anyone seen how he was greeted by his followers ?? They were screaming "GERHARD GERHARD GERHARD ..." for minutes! He seriously tried to start talking so many times but they wouldnt stop screaming. It was so amazing. Everyone in that hall seemed to know why the SPD gained their votes and who made that possible.

Personally I guess he is not only a good friend of Wladimir Putin, he also wants as much power as his friend in Russia got :)
Hopefully he makes it again!
If he succeeds with these methods, it might well be a turning point for politics in the history of the federal republic.

Thanks, Niko, I'm glad I asked because that sounds a little different to what you first wrote. It seems to me that what is missing is not some politician taking a pro-US position, but rather a firm process of explaining such a view to the public at large. These politicians are not leaders, they're followers.

@Zyme "I ve never ever seen a german politician to be so convinced of his ability to lead our country before"

Well, duh! He's done it for 7 years.

This is slightly off-topic, but I heard a rumor that Schroeder was--were he to lose the election--to take a positiion at the prestigeous Manhattan investment banking firm of Merrill Lynch with a yearly salary of $1.5 million. Can anyone confirm or deny this? How I came about this information was through a friend of mine who lives in Germany. She said she read it in the papers over there. I find it hard to believe, but perhaps someone on this forum knows more. Sorry if this is tangential to the actual election discussion, but it is something I'm very curious about. Thank you.

@Zyme

As I saw it, he was trying to gauge how much he could get away with calling Merkel arrogant in her earlier claim of having won. Every now and then the cheering would slow down and, knowing the TV cameras were watching, he would raise his arms in an effort to rekindle the spirit, and dutifully the cheering would bravely accelerate for a while. Don't be a sucker for the antics of ambitious politicians, you'll give Germans a bad name!

This election result is a disgrace, and Angela Merkel is responsible.

First, she tells us she wants to raise a tax (the "Mehrwertsteuer", the sales tax) from 16% to 18%, and then, she comes with Prof. Kirchhofs tax proposals, that nobody knew what to think about. This made the people feel uncomfortable. A clear message would have been "we want to LOWER taxes", everybody would have understood this, but with her proposal to raise the sales tax, most people thought "this is just the same as the SPD, so why vote different this time?"

In the whole campaign, EU and Turkey, Immigration and Integration, WoT and islamic radicals in Germany where not mentioned. Simply no topic.

What a desaster. I dont know what would be more harmful: 4 more years Schroeder, or a Bundeskanzlerin Merkel.

To me, the FDP looks better every minute. Westerwelle and Gerhard where abolutely brilliant, and both definitly reject a Ampelkoalition (SPD-Greens-FDP).

Josef "Joschka" Fischer was very moderate in the discussion. Smells like CDU-FDP-Greens...

@ SeanM

What do you mean?

And not only Sarkozy would not sleep well tonight - the polish leaders might be sobered, too!
Damn if that works again, I would so love to hear what Schroeder, Putin and Chiraq would say about these elections the next time they meet.

@Charlie

"Schroeder was--were he to lose the election--to take a positiion at the prestigeous Manhattan investment banking firm of Merrill Lynch with a yearly salary of $1.5 million. Can anyone confirm or deny this?"

Merrill Lynch has denied this, but you would expect them to if the negotiations were still in progress. More likely the story was floated by an overly ambitious head hunter who was fishing for takers, at both ends. Schroeder will take power if given a choice.

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