Edmund Stoiber declared victory in yesterday’s legislative elections in Germany but it was the Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who proved the adage that “He who laughs last, laughs loudest”.
Schroeder’s SPD (Social Democrats) received less votes than the main opposition party, the CDU/CSU (Christian democrats, Conservatives) led by Edmund Stoiber. However, the Green Party, which made substantial gains, proved a valuable ally in Schroeder’s coalition, which is returned to power with a working majority in the Bundestag.
The CDU/CSU obtained 39.1% of the votes, one percent more than the SPD, to which is joined the 8% obtained by the Green Party. Together, they will have 304 seats in the Bundestag, while the CDU/CSU-Liberal alliance will have 297. The great defeat went to the ex-communists, the PDS, whose heartland is in the former Democratic republic (East Germany), which returned only 2 deputies.
This was a sharp decline from 1998, when the PDS had 37 seats, a clear sign that like so many other ex-Communist parties, this is all that the party is, having failed to find its own space in a changed political world, where Socialist parties have moved to the political centre, defending rightist policies, leaving a gaping hole on the political left for real leftist policies to be debated. The ex-Communist parties of Europe, however, have in their majority proven wholly unable to exploit this political space. The punishment at the hands of the electorate is implacable and threatens the PDS, in this case, with disappearance.
Eighty-percent of its voters are over 60 years old, and the younger generation remains unimpressed with a party which does not know how to alter its discourse to match the needs of the times.
The leader, Gabi Zimmer, bet on a discourse around opposition to the USA’s aggressive stance on Iraq. However, the SPD included the same message in its manifesto, and the PDS vote polarised into keeping out Stoiber, who claimed “We have won the elections; we got four per cent more votes!”.
It is Gerhard Schroeder at the end of the day who gets another chance to address Germany’s serious unemployment, standing at over 4 million. This will be his second, and last, chance.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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