Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Alea Iacta Est

The die is cast. The German federal election is history and all parties are singing the blues. Actually, the Liberals (FDP) are not singing at all because for the first time since 1949 they missed with 4.8% of the vote the 5% minimum to get into the Bundestag (the German parliament). The winner took it all for practically all the 93 seats won by the FDP in 2009 went to the Christian Democrats (CDU) in 2013. Die Linke, the ex-communists, lost 11 of their 75 seats and even the Greens dropped from 68 to 65. Winners are the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats but these parties are not happy either. Looking at the results of the vote the SPD's hopes of toppling Chancellor Merkel and forming a coalition with the Greens turned out to be wishful thinking. Finally the CDU, though not singing the blues in C-minor, is still humming the same tune in C-major for it fell 5 seats short of an absolute majority in the Bundestag.
Germany has 298 electoral districts with 298 directly elected deputies. To this are added
the same number of candidates on lists to assure representation of the parties according
 to the percentage of votes they received. If strict proportionality cannot be reached
 Ausgleichsmandate (compensating seats) are added. Hence the German Bundestag 2013
 does not consist of 596 but 630 deputies (©Der Spiegel)
This means that Mutti (Mom) Merkel must find a partner to form a coalition government. Although adding up the seats in the new Bundestag a Red-Green-Amber* coalition would be possible that would put the CDU into opposition, nobody wants to talk with the bad amber guys of Die Linke. For Mom there remain only two acceptable coalition partners, the SPD or the Greens. In the past, however, marriages with Mom turned into disasters for her so-called junior partners. A grand coalition of Black and Red from 2005 to 2009 resulted in heavy losses for the SPD in the fall elections of 2009. Voters had identified the relative success of the Merkel/Steinmeier administration only with Mom and forgotten the contributions of the SPD. The Black-Yellow coalition from 2009 to 2013 turned out even worse for it meant Mom's deadly kiss for her junior partner FDP. With all this in mind neither the SPD nor the Greens are presently longing for Mom's cold embrace. Nevertheless, the collaboration between the Greens and the Blacks* works fine in Freiburg's City Council. Maybe our Mayor Dieter Salomon should travel to Berlin to teach his greatly perturbed Green colleagues there all the tricks.
*I explained Germany's party color code in an earlier blog

What happened to the triangulaire in the Freiburg electoral district? Gernot Erler (SPD) got only 30% of the votes compared with 35% for Matern von Marschall (CDU) and 21% for Kerstin Andreae (Green), hence Gernot lost his direct seat. Red Baron followed the duel between incumbent Gernot and his challenger Matern on the Internet. The city's polling stations were the first reporting early results and it was a thrilling neck-and-neck race between the two. When however the results of the rural districts came in later the many votes for the CDU made the final difference. With respect to the fight between Red and Green over the direct seat Erler had predicted that a "laughing third" may win. When he congratulated the winner von Marschall later in the evening he said: I saw the "laughing third".
Gernot Erler congratulates Matern von Marschall looking into the eyes of the "laughing third" (©BZ).
Nevertheless both Kerstin Andraea and Gernot Erler will sit in the new Bundestag via lists their parties have set up and will lobby for Freiburg in addition to Matern von Marschall. Maybe they will set up a Freiburg Stammtisch in Berlin.

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