Wednesday, September 21, 2005

German muddle

The situation in Germany is a total muddle. Jeffrey Gedmin, the director of the Aspen ­Institute Berlin, has an interesting editorial about the issues in the Financial Times.
For a start there is the intricate Chinese puzzle that everyone is trying to solve. Will the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens join the Liberals to form a new government? Will the Greens join the Liberals and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)? Could the SPD and Greens make common cause with the new Left party, a mix of communists and SPD defectors? Or perhaps we will get a "grand coalition", with the CDU and SPD working together – which raises the question of who becomes chancellor and whether Angela Merkel and Gerhard Schröder can survive the coming weeks. No matter what the outcome, the new government is likely to be unstable and short-lived.
At the moment, Germany is looking a little like Italy. Alas, the stakes are higher.
Do read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Bill Emott, the editor of The Economist, says (link in Italian) that he estimates that there is a 50% chance of a new election in Germany within three years and a 30% chance of new elections within three months - which at this point I think may be the best option.
Die Welt, a German daily, has an almost touching article (in German) about Bad Dürkheim, where the local government is the only one in Germany composed of a Jamaika coalition (as Germans call a coalition between the Greens, the Liberals and the Christian Democratic Union), which since the election has emerged as a fascinating option to create a viable government at the national level. Apparently, not only do they make it work in Bad Dürkheim, they even go out to drink beers together! Unfortunately that's less likely to happen in Berlin.

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