When neo-Nazis are elected to a regional parliament, many fear a resurgence of Hitler. When a left-wing splinter party gains strength, scores believe they see the ghost of communism. Because Angela Merkel, leader of the opposition Christian Democratic Union, has proposed a larger dose of reform policy than Gerhard Schrцder, the current chancellor, millions see her as the reincarnation of Maggie Thatcher.
Everyone is terrified of everyone. As if of its own accord, the word "fear" attaches itself to the word "future" Zukunftsangst permeates the German mind. Fear of reform, fear of stagnation, fear of a failure of democracy and now as the frantic climax of this collective neurosis the fear of a further growth of fear.
The result is political exhaustion on all sides. On Sunday, Europe's largest industrialized country will most likely elect the weakest of all postwar governments assuming the result even allows a government to be formed. If the Social Democrat Mr. Schrцder wins, he will not be able to do much with his victory.
During the campaign he moved far away from his own convictions in order to collect the disheartened and insecure. His party is once again humming old working-class songs and its traditionalist members couldn't be happier. But the politician Schrцder now lives to the left of reality. He's never been so distant from his spiritual neighbor Tony Blair. Even if he wanted to move back again after a successful election, his party would not allow him to return to reality. His line of retreat is cut off. If he wins, he'll be in government, but not in power, reports Wall Street Journal.
"There is one man who on election night - assuming he's the same person who we have admired and marvelled at numerous times - could spring a deft surprise: Gerhard Schrцder," Franz Walter, a political expert, wrote yesterday in the tageszeitung newspaper.
"The only way for the chancellor to survive, or even to triumph, is as the head of this red-green-yellow coalition. The stage is now set for the great machiavellian."
The FDP's leader, Guido Westerwelle, has categorically refused any deal with the chancellor. But the Liberals have a history of switching sides. In 1982 they brought down the Social Democrat government of Helmut Schmidt to form a new alliance with Helmut Kohl.
On Wednesday several leading Social Democrats, including Kurt Beck, the minister-president of Rheinland-Pfalz, said such a coalition should not be ruled out. If the FDP refused to join the party would spend the next four years in opposition, Mr Beck pointed out.
With three days to go until the poll both Mrs Merkel and Mr Schrцder yesterday ruled out a grand coalition between their parties. Dismissing speculation that he would do a deal with the Left party as "absurd", Mr Schrцder said his aim was for the SPD to be the strongest party. "The trend is upward. There is a lot of movement in the polls," he said, informs Guardian.