Angela, Gerhard or Bozo?

"Americans take heart: the United States is apparently not the only major western democracy unable to pull off an election. Germany's vote on Sunday has been a disaster from the get-go," says commentator Marc Young of Deutsche-Welle.

The problem is that Germany's left-leaning majority can't decide how to revive Europe's largest economy. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder tried moderate reform of the country's social welfare state to stimulate job growth. He lost voters to the new Left Party that opposes any kind of reduction in state benefits.

Conservative Angela Merkel tried to have it both ways, engaging in fear-mongering over Schroeder's alleged plans to cut social spending while listening to an economic adviser who favored the kind of flat-tax scheme that right-wingers can't sell in the more conservative United States. The Christian Democratic candidate got tagged as an advocate of "social coldness" and lost conservative voters to a pro-business party to her right. Who will run the country is still anybody's guess. The loser was Germany, says Spiegel Online.

By Jefferson Morley |  September 21, 2005; 7:17 AM ET  | Category:  Europe
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No, I'd argue the winner was Germany. Corporate media are pushing the "loser was Germany" line because their slash-and-burn (aka "needed reforms") agenda is less likely to be enacted now that Merkel has proved unable to rally a majority of the Bundestag. This means the German left still has the chance to come to some kind of agreement on how to steer the German economy through this challenge in a way that will not impoverish the less fortunate (unlike the Thatcher/Reagan/Bush neo-cons' recipe, which is what they would have got with Merkel). If Schroeder can come to his senses and find common ground with Oskar Lafontaine's New Left while keeping his alliance with the Greens, a more humane way could be found to steer the country through these challenges. Compare education, health, holiday and overall average material standards of living between average Germans and average Americans, and one quickly realizes that the social democratic model has made Germany a much more liveable place for comparitively more of its citizens than is the case in the U.S. (Try tell one of your 40-million plus citizens without basic health insurance that Germans are worse off because of our "socialistic" ways.) Merkel also lost, of course, because she was too closely aligned with the discredited Bush-neocon agenda for Germans' taste.

Posted by: Gerhard Linz | September 21, 2005 10:40 PM

Well I hope that the Kurds, the Shias and the Sunnis are able to form a coalition government before Christmas. Oh wait, I mean the Greens, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Union. Sorry.

Posted by: Chris | September 23, 2005 03:28 PM

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