Monday, September 19, 2005
More On The German Election
So what are the scenarios? Both big parties, “Volksparteien”, could form a coalition. But only calculational. With Schröder, this option is not on the table - he would never accept to become a junior partner of Merkel. And without Schröder, SPD is more likely to tend to the left. SPD’s entire campaign was directed in that sense; Schröder, in a way, has even sacrificed his reform agenda to please the leftist wings in his party. So there is very little no common ground. A grand coalition might become possible if both parties would topple their candidates; but that seems unlikely - at them moment.Here's what I think. I'm not changing my prediction of a CDU/SPD government with Schroeder as chancellor under some careful and complicated power sharing arrangement, but I have more respect for Mr. Speck's knowledge than for my own, so I would suggest taking Mr. Speck's ideas more seriously than my own.
What is left than is a SPD-Greens-FDP government, or a CDU-Greens-FDP government. The first option can be categorically ruled out; FDP, which has fought for strong reform in the campaign, will not form a government with SPD. FDP’s chairman Westerwelle has categorically ruled out that option, and he is backed by his entire party.
Which brings us to the last option: CDU and FDP with the Greens. Joschka Fischer has already declared that he would not be available as a Foreign Minister for such a coalition. The Greens have made a campaign that was largely based on their “socialist” side, Joschka Fischer accused, in every speech, CDU of “social coldness” (soziale Kälte), and the Greens made it clear that they wanted to continue to govern with SPD. True, the Greens have also a “liberal” wing, more market-oriented, but this wing is weak. The Greens have won a god result thanks to this “socialist” positioning; to enter in a coalition with Merkel’s CDU and Westerwelle’s FDP would be a big shock for their members as well as their electors.
I think neither party wants to face a new election at this time; a leftist coalition would defeat Schroeder's goals completely. The only way for either major party is to combine forces warily at this time. The only way that will happen is if Schroeder holds the chancellorship, and that is his goal. He has already started pushing the idea that the CDU and CSU should be regarded as two different parties, which gives him a claim to the chancellorship. Stoiber of the CSU is attempting to head this off at the pass by courting the Greens.
Ironically, the CDU's program is more akin to the reform program that Schroeder has wanted to implement. Schroeder is more "liberal" (Euro-liberal, a.k.a. free-market) than the majority of the SPD base, and has come under fire from factions within his own party.
I would strongly recommend reading Mr. Speck's entire analysis. A weak government in Germany is bad for all of Europe, at a minimum. Angela Merkel, I believe, will be persuaded to take 1/3rd of a loaf. She is not, IMO, a politician without regard for the welfare of her country.
See also SC&A on the topic. He also predicts a mid-air stall.
Fischer was an 800 lb gorilla in a China shop. No loss.
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