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Germany: Despair and hope in defeat

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Germany: Despair and hope in defeat


The SPD are the big losers in this German election. The party ruled Germany until just four years ago, then shared power in Chancellor Merkel’s uneasy ‘grand coalition’, but has now seen its share of the vote collapse. The SPD garnered just 23 per cent at the ballot box, down more than eleven points, its worst result since the Second World War.

“At this bitter moment, I’m not going to evade my responsability,” said party leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “But I do intend to do my best to help the SPD fight back with renewed energy. I want to participate in that rebuilding process, as leader of the opposition in the Bundestag.” The debate among party members has already begun, with many shocked at the fall of a once-great political force. The election is a disaster for the SPD, forced into opposition and under attack from all sides. The former SPD high-flyer Oskar Lafontaine now leads a revitalised Left, which is quickly laying claim to traditional SPD areas like social justice and pacifism. The SPD must also be wary of the growing Green movement, increasingly attractive to younger voters. The Greens took 10,7 per cent, their best ever performance; the overall results leaving the SPD looking like an old-man’s party ever more out of touch with the electorate.

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