Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Speaking of LOST: the Germany Election

It makes sense to me that if neither candidate won, it's as good as saying they both lost! Gerhardt Schröder (61) is the incumbent Chancellor of Germany. His competition is Angela Merkel (51), who bested him 35.2% to 34.3% in last Sunday's election, but because neither won a majority of the votes in Parliament, it's a stalemate.

So now what happens? Schröder (Social Democrat) and Merkel (Christian Democrat) will now try to secure enough support from the minor parties (at least four of them) to gain a clear majority: a coalition (usually the Social Democrats with the Greens and the Christian Democrats with the Free Democrats or Red-Green vs. Black-Yellow). If either candidate sought to unite with their rivals, that would be a "grand coalition," but is considered highly unlikely. If a deal cannot be reached by October 18, there will be a fresh election.

Wanna hear something funny? Germany may end up with a "Jamaica coalition" -- black, yellow and green -- which would mean Merkel is Chancellor and Germans would be "sitting around in dreadlocks with joints in their hands, and reggae music playing in the background." Sounds a lot more interesting (and colorful) than our Red-Blue choices!

Seriously, Schröder has had 7 years to put Germany back together again, without success. Despite many promises, he has conspicuously failed to reduce unemployment of almost 12%. Our landlords, the Fahrtmanns, are among the many who were hoping Merkel could bring reform. For their sakes, I hope they get it, one way or the other, even if it means holding another election (can we imagine that?!).


  1. Sitting in the middle of "Jamaica" these days and having voted green, poeple over here seem to be not really surprised by the outcome of the election. The problem with most of the political parties in Germany is, that they are always trumpeting big before teh elections and the "reforms" afterwards are always trimmed down to little trickles. Schröder needed a second legislative period to start thinking about reforms. Even Merkel has not really a programme beyond her raises in taxes and a sharp tax reform (flat by Mr. Kirchhoff) that would have never materialised. Germany is stuck in incrementalism, meaning that every government only turns and adjusts the executive knobs a little differently but noone is tackling the reforms at full speed. The problem for that? The people, everyone is talking about new jobs, but no one sees the reasons behind: globalization, China, Eastern Europe, lack of R&D. One good thing all this has: Germany at least realized it has a problem and needs to do something /though it might not be succesfull). Other European countries like Italy or France have not yet realized they will have the same problems sooner or later.

  2. I love your comment, Marco. I feel terribly UNsavvy when it comes to politics in my own country, let alone anyone else's. But your assessment rings true with what I have heard and seen here. I love Germany too much for reform not to happen. I wish you all the best as you try to move forward, however incrementally!