Germany Upside Down
Angela Merkel, the conservative candidate, led her Christian Democratic party to a first place finish but suffered a "bitter defeat," according to Spiegel Online. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was expected to lose and did -- but the Social Democrat leader is claiming victory as the "Comeback Chancellor." The unexpected and inconclusive German election results have online commentators gloomy about the future of Europe's largest economy.
Merkel, whom some hoped would be another Margaret Thatcher, dealt herself a "fatal blow" by picking a flat tax reformer as her would-be finance minister, says Radio Netherlands. At the same time Shroeder's modest attempts to reform Germany's generous labor market, pension and welfare benefits went unrewarded because they did not increase economic growth or reduce the 11 percent unemployment rate.
A signficant minority of German voters opted out of the mainstream by supporting two outsider parties, notes Euronews. These parties -- one pro-business, the other avowedly left-wing -- are in a strong position as Merkel and Schroeder scramble to put together enough votes in parliament to form a new government.
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