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I don't like being pedantic, but the second map shows responses to a survey question on the likelihood of losing one's job, not unemployment rates. The maps seem to suggest that once you take the East-West differences out, unemployment rates don't matter all that much for election results.
I think that the more interesting story about the East is that the Left Party now blocks all traditional coalitions of one major party with either FDP or the Greens.

Looks like Schroeder needs to import some American DNC chad counters,
and claim he really DID get more votes than Merkel. Use the Washington State Scenerio, keep recounting and if you don't find enough "lost" votes scream for yet another recount until you find enought to eek out a victory. Then stop recounting.

@ Konrad:

Thanks for noticing that. We want to be as exact as possible. The fact that the above is a measure of fear is even more interesting, so I'm glad you caught this detail.

All the best,
Ray D.


This Map shows even more exact what is going on here in Germany: Its the result when pollsters asked people: "Do you want more self-responsibility instead of more social help?"

The light places mean something like: "The government shall feed me"

They even talk about a "Bürgergeld" - 1000 Euro for everyone! Nobody explains where the money shall come from - but everybody knows: the "rich", the "trusts", the "factory owners" shall pay it ...

You cannot honestly watch a country like that any longer, or take its media serious?
Germany will vanish from the Maps in the short run if it continues like that...
And the election does not give much hope for a change...

@ Niko,

Please try to be serious. Anything over 30% would have been a success for Schroeder while anything under 40% would have been seen as bad for Merkel. Schroeder had almost nothing to lose as long as he did not finish in the basement. He did run a better campaign and Merkel did run a poor campaign. I also don't think Schroeder is vile or ruthless. He's a very good politician and campaigner but a poor leader.

But if you look at the hard facts, Schroeder lost. His party got fewer votes (unlike Bush) and lost more in terms of percentage than any other party (also unlike Bush). We have to see this not only in the moment and in the context of the last poll results but over the past 4 years. And, by the way, are you honestly trying to imply that the German media favored Merkel? Are you trying to imply that this blog has big clout in Germany? Common...

And what is that about standing firm? You mean like being for "peace" and wanting to sell China weapons and sending German troops to Kosovo without a UN mandate? Don't make me laugh. I could list further examples but I think you know better.

In the innovative linguistic tradition of Germanistik, I hereby dub the current German election situation "die Brezelpolitik". I wish there was a way to describe the situation in terms of Schroeder's ballot box in comparisson to Schroedinger's cat box. In both cases the inhabitant of the box, in one case the cat and in the other the german electorate, is slightly screwed.

On a serious note, though, it seems that while Schroeder waged the right campaign but the wrong political agenda, Merkel waged the wrong campaign but has a better political gameplan. While I'm not going to play the soapbox American know-it-all, I think that the German political scene is lacking a certain measure of maturity. Of course, anyone regularly reading the Medienkritik will see that in the ridiculous pictures, editorials and news programs chronicled on this site.

Something just isn't working here. I hope someone can find out what. Unless Germany can get it's act together, all of Europe is going to suffer.

My apologies if I seem flippant and ill-informed. I'm deeply concerned about Germany and the Wahlkampf in particular, but I'm also horribly confused and amused by the bizzare results.

@ Niko

I disagree with you on the media argument, and I'm siding with Ray on it. I caught ARD (Wickert) and RTL News many times blatantly campaigning against CDU. For instance, if you go back to the duel, some foreign correspondents were asked who they thought won. Most said it was a draw, some said Merkel, and just one spanish lady said Schroeder. On the following news, a summary of the duell was made, and only one "foreign" interview got shown - the spanish journalist. Then there was this reporter who asked the following question of a candidate: "do you think it's alright to use the German population as guinea pigs, like Kirchhoff wants to do?". Now if that's not parroting SPD talking points... There are many, many more examples.

@ Thade

In my opinion you're on the right track. All germans are afraid of losing their job right now. The most endangered or already unemployed who voted for FDP/CDU were hoping to have new jobs created - the ones who voted for PDS/Linke were hoping to have their unemployment check increased. That's two diferent ways of solving one problem. Unfortunately the latter hasn't realised, that with the stalling german economy there won't be enough to go around, so they just voted for their pie in the sky.

I would place most of the blame for the Union's poor showing on their plan to increase the MWSt. When that was first announced, I told my wife that these guys would deserve to lose just for that. Here we had socalled conservatives going into an election campaign and one of the first things they do is promise tax increases! It wouldn't surprise me if many CDU/CSU voters simply stayed home instead of voting themselves a tax increase.

@ Niko:

Alright my friend...first of all, calm down, take a deep breath.

Secondly, I'm not a big fan of Merkel or the CDU. But I think a CDU/FDP government would have been the best option. I personally am an FDP supporter. That doesn't mean I think CDU and FDP are perfect or that Merkel is a good leader. It just means I prefer them to the SPD as a part of the government. Your profuse insistence that Merkel is so terrible is a strawman of your own making. I agree with you that she is a poor leader and an even worse campaigner. The results today make that clear.

"There was only one election on the federal level in the past 4 years, and Schröder won that one."

And Schroeder lost this one, albeit by a narrow margin. His party also lost the most voters of any party.

"No. This is what I wrote, "Unlike you I don't see how in this election there was a vast left-wing conspiracy trying to bring down the so-called "conservative" candidate."

Now you are just putting words in my mouth. "Vast left-wing conspiracy"? When did I say that? I just happen to believe that, over-all, the media did not favor Merkel. Just go back to the armpit sweat or the brutto-netto nothing stories. They prove my point. Hardly an extreme position.

"Not so fast. I was clearly writing about decisions that have been already made, not future plans. May I remind you that the CDU also supports sending German troops to Kosovo without a UN mandate? And remind you that the CDU also rejects German troops in Iraq? And that the CDU also says the Iraq war was illegal?"

Again, I'm not defending the CDU's entire platform here. (You must have missed this posting I did). But you said that Schroeder was so much more consistent and firm, which is ridiculous. The man is an ice-cold opportunistic politician, pure and simple.

So to summarize again: I don't support everything the CDU or FDP stand for. But I personally think they are a better alternative than the current government. If you honestly want to believe that they would have been just as bad or worse than Schroeder you are entitled to your opinion. I think we have 7 years of history that speak against that.

Oh yeah, PS: I also didn't see the CDU or FDP using a photo of American soldiers' coffins to win votes. I also didn't see them try to blame the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on American environmental policy or lack of a larger government. Just a couple more reasons I would have preferred CDU/FDP. But again, that is just my personal view. I'll let David speak for himself, he is the one who runs this blog and sets the agenda.

These elections showed again that you can (almost) win with paroles. Schröder is the master of paroles. Most of the people in Germany still like this. Who has the knowledge to understand which politics and econimc plan is better? I am sure, Schröder won with his Anti-US attitude. There he made his points. At the moment the people don't want more. Be strong, be against the US, that is enough for dreaming of a strong Germany in this world. They still don't suffer enough to realize what simple mind Schröder has. Watching him in TV after the elcetion, I thought he got mad. This man ruled Germany for 7 years with nothing more than paroles. A well-known technic.


"If you honestly want to believe that they would have been just as bad or worse than Schroeder you are entitled to your opinion. "

I was going to write a lengthy comment, but Ray´s answer sums it up very well. If you are not able (or not willing) to see the tiny differences e.g. between Kirchhof and Eichel, then there´s no point to argue.

I don´t feel much inclination to talk about might-have-beens. The interesting question is what´s going to happen now. I was grudgingly preparing myself for a grand coalition, but now I´m completely at a loss. Schröder´s 'show' at the 'Elefantenrunde' was the most shocking thing I´ve ever seen. I honestly consider the possibility that he might have been drugged...
There will not be a grand coalition under a Chancellor Schröder. That much is for sure. So my best guess is that Schröder (and maybe Merkel, too) will be kicked out, and that we´ll end up with a grand coalition under a CDU Chancellor.

It has been interesting to read all of the comments especially those of the Germans who voted and whose lives will be effected by the outcome of this election.

Surely each party and each leading candidate can claim victory for themselves and their parties just as each one can equally be called a loser to some degree.

There has been much speculation about the members as well as the leaders of the new government, which will be formed from this election.

Looking at any combination of parties to form a majority will not reflect where the German people are. There is a huge void of understanding of both Germany’s current condition and Germany’s future. Reality and the future were never the central themes of this campaign.

No one ever really spoke to this. So the German people we left to decide the future without a common understanding.

Even if there had been a full and open debate on reality, I personally am not sure that Germany would be ready for change. I actually question if Germany can ever change. There are just too many people who depend on the social welfare state for some benefit and fear the loss of those benefits. It is OK to talk about change as long as those changes do not effect your life. When those changes might, then most people reconsider their choices.

In the case of Germans, the past is always better than the future. The known better than the unknown. To break this cycle requires a strong leader. There appears to be no such leader in Germany one that can marshal the strengths and courage of the German people and move the nation forward.

No matter which parties form the next government it will be both weak and ineffective. that is unless you consider the past 7 years to have been effective. The German people have not given any party or leader a mandate to move Germany from where it is today to some point in the future.

So Germany will drift even more and will continue its decline as more time is wasted.

No rational person should consider the outcome of this election a success.

@Gabi: "I am sure, Schröder won with his Anti-US attitude."

He didn't win. I hope. :)
And he got the votes with his anti-Kirchhof campaign, not with anti-US.


Could not agree with you more about this was not the world's election.

To be honest there has been little real coverage on either the election or the results in the US. If anything there appears to be more coverage and concern within Europe which of course is only natural.

Now about elections... I hope you save that comment so you can post it again and again and again when America has its next election.

It would be really refreshing if not only the Germans but the rest of Europe and the world heeded your observation.

And, by the way, are you honestly trying to imply that the German media favored Merkel?

You can't deny the armpit photo!

@ Niko:

"This. Election. Was. Not. About. Foreign. Policy. Issues."

Ummm...this is what I wrote in the post above:

"This time the fears centered mainly around unemployment issues and economic reforms to the German social welfare state."

Does that sound like foreign policy to you Niko? Clearly, I never said this election was primarily decided by foreign policy issues. (Another strawman) What I said in my comment was that for numerous reasons, including foreign policy issues, I would have personally preferred a CDU/FDP coalition to a government with the SPD in any form.

By the way, David and I are both Germans, so I think we have a right to comment on our own country's election. If you see that as "venting", again, that's your opinion, and you are entitled to it.

Everyone should follow the above link to the interactive map and play "color shades." Elections are elections, and starting in the US election in 2000, I have found the color maps a big help in looking at trends, or at least give you something to talk about.

Pick each party and then click between 2002 and 2005. A trend starts to become obvious.
1. Deep red (SDP) is retreating. Less crimson, more pink. SDP support is still there, but weakening.

2. Blue (CDU/CSU) is getting darker. No mistake. Nationwide, even in the East, there is more support for CDU/CSU as per the map, even though the head of the CSU basically called them idiots.

3. The greening of Germany. The former West Germany is warming to the Greens; though my guess it is a lot of pissed off SDP supporters that won't vote for the Communists and would rather go to church than vote for CDU/CSU and their only outlet is the Green Party.

4. Yellow is growing....in the West. The southern part of the former East improved their support for the capitalist FDP, that is about it. The big gains, like for the Greens is in the West. I think the FDP might be getting some of the Right what the Greens are doing for the Left. CDU/CSU supporters pissed off at the "Only some new taxes" campaign slogan and less than aggressive support of needed economic change, shifted their vote to FDP. If I was a German, that is what I would have done. No offense Frau Merkle, but you are a weak sister.

5. East German Communists didn't kill enough Germans, I guess. The growth of the German Communists (that is what they are, call them that...) did very well in the East, and even received a slathering of support in the West. Hey, suckling pigs of the teat of capitalism are often spoiled and hate that which they are addicted to. Even in Red State America we have our MoveOn.org and democraticunderground folks.

Summary, Germans are moving to the poles as the center gets mushy. The last month was a horrible campaign by the CDU/CSU and the Germans are addicted to their unsustainable nanny state to want the medicine they will, one day need.

Great maps.

Dear colleagues:

I'm writing this at 1:15 am and haven't had the time to work out the numbers here but there is one inescapable conclusion to my poor mind's eye: Partial Proprortional Representation is the Source of the Wahlkrisis '05.

Somebody should go through the constituencies one by one and add them up: How many went CDU/CSU? SPD? Go by Erststimmen only. When you do your sums, you'll get a Government, probably a Union-Regierung. And a further benefit: The Greens and the Linkspartei are OUT OF THE PICTURE.

Conclusion: Anglo-American first-past-the-post WORKS. Proportional representation -- whether of the partial or total kinds -- is a FAIL-URE. Two words: FAIL-URE. Yes, "failure" is normally one word, but this situation is so bad it's now worth two words.

There's something I don't know if anyone has mentioned - -

This election was very irregular and even unconstitutional. The only justification for it was political -- Schröder's government had become paralyzed with the opposition's dominance of the Bundesrat.

The only possible justification for this quasi-unconstitutional elections would have been to provide a change of government - that is, a CDU/CSU-led one.

If an even weaker Schröder remains as Chancellor - what was the point of the election? It didn't change anything in the Bundesrat composition.

The only explanation for Schröder's words and actions is that he's increasing his bargaining power for the grand coalition negotiations.

I mean - - why would a Schröder-led coalition with the Greens and FDP be more effective than the present one? It makes no sense.

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