Predictions of political stagnation and gloom after yesterday’s confused election result in Germany have not wiped the smile from the Chancellor’s face. Gerhard Schroeder has come out of the ballot visibly energised. Polls had the Social Democrat leader trailing behind his rival, but he defied the odds and is now less than one point behind the conservative CDU and is claiming he will be leading the next government.
“This success couldn’t have been possible without you” he said to his supporters, “it wouldn’t have been possible without the party members who believe in it.” For Angela Merkel the result was a shock, though marginally ahead, hers was an unexpectedly poor showing. It means she has to form a stable coalition or face a bleak political future.But now at loggerheads with Schroeder, the head of the Christian Democrats says she wants to be leading Germany and become the country’s first woman chancellor. “We are the strongest faction in parliament and have a clear mandate for forming the government. And now we have to think about the country, the campaigning is over and that will be the main message today,” she said.
The traditional conservative CDU-FDP alliance has not gained a majority in parliament. Nor has the current ruling SDP-Greens coalition – so now both are counting on smaller parties or on forming a possible grand coalition. The make-up of parliament is not finalised yet – the death of a candidate in Dresden means there are up to three more seats to play for.But that will not give either side the majority it needs and analysts say it is unlikely to substantially influence coalition negotiations.