20 September 2005

mainchance chancellor

New election looms as Greens reject Merkel
He [Joschka Fischer, the Green leader] told the Guardian: 'Can you really see Angela Merkel and Edmund Stoiber [the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the CSU] sitting round the table in dreadlocks? This is more our style. It's impossible. I don't see that.'

On issues such as atomic energy, taxation, social policy and Turkey's membership of the European Union, the conservatives and the Greens had nothing in common, he added.

Both Mrs Merkel and Mr Schr�der failed to win an outright majority for their parties in Sunday's election, which Mrs Merkel had been widely expected to win. Her CDU party got just 35.2% of the vote - one of its worst results ever, and far less than opinion polls had predicted. Mr Schr�oeder's Social Democrats won 34.3% of the vote.

Mrs Merkel's coalition partner, the FDP, won 9.9%, with the Greens on 8.1% and the recently formed Left party on 8.7%. Under Germany's constitution, the country's new parliament has to elect a new chancellor when it meets next month. But with Mrs Merkel unable to command a majority in the Bundestag, she is unlikely to win in a secret ballot of MPs.

After three rounds of voting, the country's president, Horst Koehler, could then invite her to form a minority centre-right government. But he is unlikely to invoke this option, which would almost certainly lead to the new government's swift demise and further humiliation for an already weakened Mrs Merkel. Instead, constitutional experts believe, Mr Koehler will dissolve parliament.

Until this happens, Mr Schroeder will carry on as chancellor until Germans go to the polls again, probably in January.Asked who was likely to win the face-off between Mr Schroeder and Mrs Merkel, Nils Diederich, a professor of political science at Berlin's Free University, said he had his money on the chancellor: 'There is now a poker game going on, with Schroeder playing for very high stakes. The reason he was so relaxed on election night is that he knows he is now in a favourable position.'

It's getting more and more obvious why Joschka Fischer is widely regarded as the only German politico who spaks with any fire or wit.

President Koehler does not have a lot of choice about a new election. The Basic Law says:

Article 63 (Election and appointment of the Federal Chancellor)
(1) The Federal Chancellor is elected, without debate, by the Bundestag on the proposal of the Federal President.

(2) The person obtaining the votes of the majority of the members of the Bundestag is elected. The persons elected must be appointed by the Federal President.

(3) If the person proposed is not elected, the Bundestag may elect within fourteen days of the ballot a Federal Chancellor by more than one-half of its members.

(4) If there is no election within this period, a new ballot shall take place without delay in which the person obtaining the largest number of votes is elected. If the person elected obtained the votes of the majority of the members of the Bundestag the Federal President must appoint him within Seven days of the election. If the person elected did not receive this majority, the Federal President must within even days either appoint him or dissolve the Bundestag

The conservatives simply do not have the numbers to elect Angela Merkel. If the SPD/Green combination can get the support of either the FDP or the Left they can elect Gerhard Schoeder.

All in all, this seems to be somewhat of a trend, although the neoliberal right did better in New Zealand and much, much worse in Norway.

Dresden votes on 1 October. The new Bundestag meets to elect a chancellor (with 14 days to do it) on 10 October.

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