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Merkel's party hails dream result

Gavin Hewitt | 19:50 UK time, Sunday, 27 September 2009

cdu595a.jpgFrom the moment the first exit polls appeared, the celebrations began at the Christian Democrats' Headquarters in Berlin. Every good result was met with whoops and a clinking of beer glasses. They even managed to offer sausages with "CDU" branded on them!

Angela Merkel's supporters had grown nervous in recent days that they might have to continue their awkward partnership with the Social Democrats.

Soon it sunk in that Germany would have a centre-right government. It was more than many at Mrs Merkel's party headquarters had dared to hope for. One woman told us she thought it would be bad for Germany if the current coalition had continued.

When Angela Merkel arrived she was met with cries of "Angie, Angie". She had made the election about herself and so this was a significant victory for her.

Although this is a shift to the right, Angela Merkel stressed that she wanted to be "the Chancellor of all Germans". Certainly her record in power suggests she will be pragmatic. In 2005 she had talked of radical economic reforms. Now she has the opportunity to reveal where her true instincts lie.

Angela Merkel's new partners are the pro-business Free Democrats. They won't get their way with all their demands but they are tax-cutters, they want to reduce the state, they are reluctant to bail-out companies and they are against generous stimulus packages.

Even if some of their ideas are adopted it will sharpen the political divide in Germany.

But one story tonight is this: at a time when Germans are outraged at the excesses of capitalism, the greed of the bankers and the bonuses they take, they have given the centre-left its worst result in nearly 60 years.

The voters may not like casino capitalism, but they seem to treasure more an efficient crisis-manager, which is how Angela Merkel sold herself.

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  • 1. At 8:25pm on 27 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Gavin:

    This is what Angela Merkel and her party wanted in the campaign process ....That the party was going to get a return to power, although a slight reduction in the exit polls from the 2005, German Elections......

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 2. At 8:27pm on 27 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Gavin:

    Maybe, the real reason for A. Merkel party for winning on Sunday's German elections was that she was talking the correct language to the German Public.....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 3. At 9:16pm on 27 Sep 2009, MTE_05 wrote:

    Gavin, this is not a shift to the right, it is a shift away from the centre. The centre-left and centre-right BOTH declined since 2005, though of course the centre-left SPD declined the most. The real winners were the three smaller parties, all of which got the best result in their history. And while one of them is indeed the right-wing FDP, the other two are the Green Party and the Left Party - who are significantly more left-wing than the SPD.

    In fact, the rise of the maverick Left Party to 12% (from 8% four years ago and 4% before that) is nothing short of spectacular.

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  • 4. At 11:35pm on 27 Sep 2009, HailToTheDirk wrote:

    Sorry Dennis,

    but Mrs Merkel doesn't speak the 'correct language to the German public' when she's only the chancelor for around 27% - please do not forget to discount CSU.

    I'm quite interested in Mrs Merkels explanation on why did Germany vote - in her opinion - 'pro-business' in these times.

    And will she recognize the massive upturn far-left-away?

    Now walking on broken glass for 4 years

    Dirk

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  • 5. At 03:56am on 28 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    6. At 6:49pm on 27 Sep 2009, frenchderek wrote:

    "@Suffolkboy2; Have you ever been to/lived in Germany - modern Germany? ..."

    SB2: Yes! Both! I was in Berlin a few months ago and really enjoyed myself and half want to live there except that Zurich is even better and outside the "EU"-Dictatorship. I have loads and loads of positive things to say about Germany. These things are reasons to be friendly with Germans, to learn from them and to cooperate with them. I also have some negative things to say and these things are reasons to want not to be in a political union with them.


    FD: "...You're talking claptrap."

    SB2: Please give me an example.

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  • 6. At 04:05am on 28 Sep 2009, Driftwood1973 wrote:

    Gavin

    The main critics of Casino Capitalism weren't the SPD but the far left Election Winners "Die Linken". The SPD has one big problem: It can't shake off their greatest rivals anymore, hence they need to change strategy concerning the new rivals.
    They can not ignore the facts anymore, that there is another left wing, socialist party on the horizont, that seems to appeal to the working-class and unemployed Germans more than the SPD. The SPD losses are not only a short term phenomenon but I suspect , that this will be a more serious trend, where they have to share their voters with the " Die Linken" party.

    Kind regards from German

    Marcel

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  • 7. At 04:13am on 28 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    5. At 6:31pm on 27 Sep 2009, stellarBeloved wrote:

    "Suffolkboy2, you may be right.

    But the above subject is Germany, not Turkey ..."

    SB2: I reject the dictatorship of Topicism, Dudenism, German style constitutions and constitutional courts, the European convention of Human Rights and its court, the Catholic Church and above all the "EU".

    I reject the German (and continental?) attitude to absolute truths and definitions.

    So I reject large chunks of the continental mind and believe that most Brits do.

    I believe that if the continentals understood how different we really are they wouldn't want us in the "EU".

    The trouble is that German (and continental?) "EU"-lovers generally do not listen. They just talk at you and not with you.

    Brits are also at fault for being too diplomatic about their views on failings of the continentals.

    It isn't going to work. It might end in bloodshed. I hope not.

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  • 8. At 04:16am on 28 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    She might be sensible on many things, but she isn't sensible on the "EU".

    The "European Idea" is her drug and her religion.

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  • 9. At 07:12am on 28 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    That so staunchly statist pro- labor unions SPD lost so abysmally, and FDP, a pro-business and free-market party (not the 'right-wing' as it's been claimed here) gained so much (their traditional electorate hovered around 10%) demonstrates tha social-democrats are not considered a viable opion in times of economonic crisis.

    Just like equally abysmall defeat of Socialists in the last election in France indicates that being staunchly a party of proletariant and anti-capitalist doesn't guarantee them victory anymore.

    Demagogy, in the absence of tangible results, works only for a while.

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  • 10. At 07:40am on 28 Sep 2009, mikewarsaw wrote:

    Well done Angela Merkel!
    Yes the "left" lost in Germany, but that does NOT mean US/UK style casino/bangster capitalism with its gross abuses being implemented in Europe's largest economy and society. Rather, a 21st century implementation of the traditional social market economy that Germans hold dear, originally implemented by the CDU/CSU/FDP governments of the 1950's and 1960's and firmly entrenched in an integrating European Union and NATO.The more member staes of the EU follow the German model, the better for all us EU citizens.
    Would that the UK moved towards such a model and away from its US one-way love affair.

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  • 11. At 08:12am on 28 Sep 2009, Seraphim wrote:

    The result was in a way forseeable, just sad that so many people didn't vote despite having a huge pro-voting campaign.

    I hope that CDU/FDP now find a way to stabilize economy without cutting too deep into the welfare systems because else the left wing party will get even more votes, which I doubt being a good thing for Germany / Europe.

    I wonder how Guido Westerwelle will do as foreign minister as he is ... different than his predecessor.

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  • 12. At 08:21am on 28 Sep 2009, peeyar wrote:

    Two main features of this election which Gavin seems to have ignored:

    1) This is the worst ever performance of the Christian Democrats - 34%

    2) Left and Green Parties together have increased their share to about 22%

    It is more of a "dream result" for the left than for the right!

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  • 13. At 08:51am on 28 Sep 2009, 00eddie wrote:

    the xenophobia of some here is astonishing! now that open racism isn't acceptable anymore, those continentals have to do when someone to look down to is needed..

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  • 14. At 09:17am on 28 Sep 2009, phoenix wrote:

    "A day will come when you all, nations of this continent, without losing your distinct qualities and your glorious individuality, will bind yourselves tightly in a new, higher unity - the brotherhood of Europe"

    Victor Hugo 1849

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  • 15. At 10:03am on 28 Sep 2009, JM wrote:

    Well the result is no suprise really.

    The voters left the SPd in droves beacuase of 4 things.

    1. Hartz 4 and the "social unequality" that it produces-If you lose your job you will get ALG2 and you´re under the poverty line-Even if you are 60yrs old!and you have to accept ALL jobs even if it pays only 3 quid an hr.!(Or you get no money-You could be made homeless under Hartz 4!)

    2.Raising the pension age to 67-Very unpopular!

    3.Deregulation for Job Agencies(Leiharbeit)-The pay is very low and many workers have been forced into poverty though these new laws!Many good paid jobs have been cut to make way for these type of work-Often with 50% wage cuts!

    4. Massive Tax cuts for the rich,deregulation of the finance industry(Hedge Funds) and escpecially abolshing taxes on all profits from firm sales.This has led to many german firms being exploited by american hedge funds and led to many job loses.

    The SPD will never recover as long as Herr Steinmeier and Herr Münterfering are still there!Neo Liberal policies from a socialist party are too much for many germans.Many have gone to the Left Party and if the stigma of being ex-communist wasn´t there the SPD would have done much much worse!

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  • 16. At 10:26am on 28 Sep 2009, Marton R wrote:

    Hello Gavin,

    One thing you must admit: This was a kind of non-election, with the two main parties unable to really go at each other, since they were, after all, ruling together. The SPD also dug its own hole, first by abandoning its left-wing base under Schroeder, secondly by elevating boring old bureaucrats to leadership positions. But the other side is hardly better. Merkel can't really shake off the aura of the schoolmarm, and Westerwelle (FDP) screams "yuppy", which does not go down well with the average German worker. my neighbor, who is sort of Greenish, went for the CDU or FDP (he wasn't clear about which) to put ONE side of the spectrum in power and see what develops.

    And while the winners are tending to their champagne headaches and the losers to their doldrum headaches, politics just go on as usual. Merkel and Westerwelle will have to avoid becoming lightheaded about their victory, it is tentative at best. As of today, September 28, 2009, they are responsible for cleaning up the mess that THEIR good friends at the banks were responsible for... because of the old grand coalition, of course, the government had no real opposition. Now it does, so we are back to dialectics as usual.

    The FDP is going to have to make good on its lip service to Germany's SME -- which are the backbone of Germany's economy --, bring down taxes, reduce red tape, and so on... And the CDU will have to restrain its love of nuclear power, and its natural impulse to give huge corporations free reign. And they are going to face a truculent opposition.

    I voted fopr the first time ever in Germany (as a new citizen of the country). As a self-employed journalist, I would be an typical FDP candidate, but I don't trust that party at all, especially their kow-towing to the Invisible Hand, which, in my view is a silly, hackneyed image. I voted for the only party that actually does something for my local area, the Greens. In fact, they are the only party with practical ideas, such as decentralisation of energy, alternative energy, speed limits in villages, improving train travel, etc... The rest, from what I saw in the programmes, produce hot air that they don't even believe in. My neighbor was an SPD candidate. She is young, pretty, intelligent, I suppose. We crossed paths on Saturday night. I asked her how she felt. She said:"If I get enough votes tomorrow, I'll be heading to Berlin." My local Green candidate, however, is interested in the programme to improve our region.

    That is a big difference.

    Cheers.

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  • 17. At 10:58am on 28 Sep 2009, JM wrote:

    A lot of germans are scared of the FDP though.

    Escpecially the poor and people on a low wage.

    We don´t have a minimum wage here and a lot of german workers have done worse under the SPD.

    Will be intresting to see what happens in the Bundesrat .

    In 2010 there are elections in Northrhein-Westfailia which could change the make up of the Bundesrat.

    Even Jürgen Rüttgers(CDU NRW) is running scared-Education was a big theme here and his coalition with the FDP has introduced Tution Fees and 8yr A Levels(instaed of 9) which is very unpopular with a lot of people.

    it will be intresting in germany in the next 12 mths...

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  • 18. At 11:22am on 28 Sep 2009, waitingforthepain wrote:

    I think it is clear that both the CDU and the SPD suffered for some of the things the grand coalition had to do over the last year and for the recession. Angela Merkel has won because she suffered less but the comment that this result is a move away from the centre is on the money. The question is will the 2 main parties recover now that they have escaped each other's embrace or are we looking at greater instability in German politics going forward? I personally find the De Linge vote quite disturbing. It seems to have gone beyond even the continuing difficulties that arose from unification. Merkel is a serious and pragmatic organiser and will need all her skills to hold her country together over the next few years. We are not the only country that is going to suffer cuts in spending and increases in taxes.

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  • 19. At 11:51am on 28 Sep 2009, Marton R wrote:

    ChrisPBacon... Good points.... retirement at 67 is more than unpopular, it is patently absurd. Anyone above 50 nowadays is considered a step away from the glue factory... In their drive to optimise profits and competitiveness, companies tend to dump their older workers first...

    Alas, I do believe that this program was not an SPD idea, or was it?

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  • 20. At 12:04pm on 28 Sep 2009, klautered wrote:

    This result underlines how the country is split fairly well 50:50 down the middle. At the end of a lacklustre campaign that the Electorate chose the CDU/CSU and FDP route is not really surprising.though, as the Grand Coalition has succeeded in doing absolutely nothing other than putting up the cost of Healthcare and VAT with the full agreement of the SPD. That the CDU vote was down could be explained by the rise in the FDP vote, possibly coming from the Free Market wing of the CDU/CSU voter base. " Die Linke" ran a strong campaign promising more money for those on low incomes or social security, without having to worry about backing it up with action as there was always little chance of them being a governing partner. Their calls for a system change worried some as it is not clear what the "change" is, they want to make.

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  • 21. At 12:21pm on 28 Sep 2009, Start spreading the news,He's playing today,I want to see him score today, Sammy Clingan ™ (1987) wrote:

    These right-wingers just wanna save save save, they don't wanna invest in infrastructure, education, anything. They wanna live in wooden shack and drive in grumpy old car and accumulate pile of cash into their bank account, without realizing that in an economy there is no income unless someone is spending, you know, actually buying the labor from wage-earner. Economy just cannot function that way.

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  • 22. At 12:23pm on 28 Sep 2009, Andy-in-France wrote:

    #14 FordMondeo - Yes- we've all seen this quote many times now. Please give it a rest, and try to find a different quotation!

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  • 23. At 12:54pm on 28 Sep 2009, Seraphim wrote:

    @ ChrisPBacon:

    Good that you also seized the opportunity to vote then, looks like your neighbour will be your neighbour for another 4 years seeing the results ;-)

    About the FDP, I am in a situation in which a coalition of SPD and Linke would probably hurt me far more than the yellow black one we got now will, however I could never vote for the FDP as I am scared of the social unrest that will sooner or later come with that party getting too many votes. I am surprised that so many people either don't seem to care about it just seek alternatives for the grand coalition. In fact any vote for the FDP was voice for change while any vote for the CDU could also be used to continue another 4 years with the last 4. I think the FDP benefitted from that.

    Let's see how long it'll take for those people to wake up and see what they got now, I bet some will be surprised :-)

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  • 24. At 1:59pm on 28 Sep 2009, JM wrote:

    As a brit i´m not allowed to vote!

    But my wife did!

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  • 25. At 2:30pm on 28 Sep 2009, JM wrote:

    @MisterFubar

    The social reforms were all done apart from pensions with 67 in the red-green govt.
    A lot of voters(like my wife) find that the SPD is unelectable at the moment.Some have gone to the greens,a lot to the Left party and even some to the FDP.

    FW Steimmeier is the arctitect from the Agenda 2010 until he has gone the SPD will never recover.

    Social justice is very very important for the germans!

    Even last night in the ARD was mentionend that if the CDU/FDP go too far social unrest is around the corner which is more expensive than any money they will save..

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