Governing Germany

Let's start with the facts:

CDU/CSU 225
SPD 222
FDP 61
PDS/Left 54
Greens 51

There is still one seat to declare.

Schroeder is calling this a "disaster" for Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel. No doubt she is disappointed. So am I. But the result seems more disastrous for the SPD/Green coalition. Afterall, Schroeder's party fell from first place in the last two federal elections to second - albeit by a very narrow margin. His Green allies slipped from from third place to fifth.

Everyone is declaring that they will not deal with the PDS, and the PDS rules out entering any coalition. Clearly, there is only one two party coalition that could have a majority: a grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD. Schroeder has talked about a "traffic light" coalition of the SPD (red), FDP (yellow) and Greens. Guido Westerwelle, leader of the FDP, though not its parliamentary leader, has ruled that out.

A few weeks ago the Economist was speculating about a future coalition between the CDU/CSU and the Greens. There is perhaps a theoretical possibility of the Greens signing up to join Merkel's preferred coalition with the FDP.

A grand coalition remains, though, the most probable outcome. It should probably be led by Angela Merkel, but one thing is abundantly clear. Schroeder and his coalition have been decisively, if narrowly, rejected. Schroeder should not be the leader of the grand coalition and should probably retire from federal politics altogether.

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