Surprising Numbers: CDU-CSU Much Lower - FDP Much Higher Than Expected
Here are the preliminary results from today's election as reported in the German media. These results are not yet final and official, but they will probably not change too much from this point on:
CDU-CSU much weaker than expected, FDP stronger than expected, otherwise parties receive predictable results. (source)
Strongly looks like a "Grand Coalition" between CDU-CSU and SPD with Merkel at its head. (Update: Merkel as Chancellor is far from certain, the SPD is quite close to the CDU-CSU at this point and Schroeder still has a chance.) The CDU-CSU appears to be far below the pre-election poll numbers, which had the party around 41%. One of the biggest losers in this election will be the pollsters as they clearly and dramatically failed to accurately predict the correct outcome.
Analysis: There remains a high degree of uncertainty at this point. Merkel may still be Chancellor, Schroeder may still be out, but the CDU-CSU's poorer than expected performance will almost certainly guarantee a gridlock prone "Grand Coalition" with a heavier SPD proportion than expected.
It looks like Angela Merkel completely failed to energize her base. The SPD did a much better job of campaigning with a sympathetic media at its side and turned in the expected performance despite Germany's massive domestic problems. Schroeder's strong debate performance further boosted the SPD and took the air out of Merkel. Many conservative voters appear to have voted FDP rather than CDU-CSU. This result is going to badly weaken Merkel in the Chancellery (if she makes it).
There also remains an outside chance of a three-way coalition between either SPD/Greens/LeftPDS or SPD/Greens/FDP or even CDU-CSU/FDP/Greens. Many prominent politicians categorically ruled-out these constellations before the election, but you just never know in politics...power can be tempting.
As we see it, things don't look particularly good for Germany or German-American relations. The key word at this point is: Gridlock. Expect to see a lot of it in Germany's future.
Notes for readers not familiar with German politics: SPD = Schroeder's Social-Democrats; CDU-CSU = Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian Christian Social Democratic Union; Grüne = Greens; FDP = Free-Democrats (business and economically-minded party), Linke.PDS = Left-Wing ex-Communist party; Sonstige = Others.
Check out Davids pre-election analysis of the situation if you are unfamiliar with German politics and want to learn more.
+++UPDATE+++: Because of the relatively close CDU-CSU results relative to the SPD, both Schroeder and Merkel are laying claim to the Chancellery. It still looks like the CDU-CSU has the slightly better position, but anything is possible, with Schroeder pointing to the fact that he is far more popular than Merkel in a one-on-one comparison. It may be that the distribution of seats is very close indeed between the CDU-CSU and SPD once all the counting is done.
Endnote: It looks like our July article on German mediocrity is more true than ever. Today's election only seems to confirm our earlier thoughts.
Anyway, stay tuned...the saga has only just begun...
(Article by Ray D.)