BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
German vote resolves nothing
By William Horsley
BBC European Affairs correspondent

German political activists follow election results
Germans face a period of uncertainty
After the election in Germany the opposition Christian Democrats have a narrow lead in a hung parliament, but weeks of uncertainty might now follow.

A setback for Germany's modernising reforms; a fightback from near the political grave by Chancellor Schroeder; a strategic blunder by Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrats' champion who frightened voters with talk of tax rises and sweeping welfare cuts; and political confusion ahead.

This election has resolved nothing, but with the Christian Democrats emerging by a hair's breadth as the largest party, Mrs Merkel will get the first chance to try to form a coalition government.

But she has failed to win a majority with her chosen partners, the pro-business Liberals.

HAVE YOUR SAY
A grand coalition looks like the only option and this itself is a very sad reflection of the current state of affairs
Natalie Oetama, Hamburg, Germany

That gives Gerhard Schroeder the possibility to influence the make-up of the next government.

He says he intends to lead it. But his Social Democrats are far short of the seats they would need to stay in power with their partners, the Greens.

Gridlock?

So now the horse trading and political poker begin. Talks will start at once among the five parties in parliament.

One possible outcome is a so-called grand coalition in which the two big parties - the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats - form a government together, despite their mutual antagonism.

That could lead to instability or gridlock.

The two sides differ sharply over how to raise Germany's economic spirits.

Mr Schroeder has vowed to block more liberalising reforms.

They also differ over Germany's place in the Western alliance.

Mr Schroeder has joined France in trying to counter the global dominance of the US, while Mrs Merkel has promised to mend fences with Washington.

Germany has shown itself deeply split between East and West and between reformers and those unwilling to face change.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific