Germany in the 21st Century Part III

Vote analysis

The results describe this unexpected stalemate very well and confirm an analyst’s observation that “the voter voted with a shaking hand”: CDU / CSU 35.2% (in 2002 38.5%), SPD 34, 5% (38.5%), Verdi 8.1% (8.6%), FDP 9.8% (7.4%), Linkspartei-PDS 8.7% (in 2002 PDS alone 4%). Participation in the vote was 77.7% (in 2002 it was 79.1%).

As we have said, for the first time since 1949, none of the political parties that faced each other won a majority. This behavior has provoked – as Eckhard Jesse, professor of political science at the University of Chemnitz and the leading scholar of electoral behavior in Germany, has promptly pointed out – a sensational paradox: Schröder strongly wanted the early end of the legislature to be able to call new elections, hoping thereby to overcome a political stalemate; on the contrary, the outcome of the elections has produced an even more complicated and more ungovernable situation. Faced with this result – to be honest it must be said more in other European countries than in Germany itself – someone has questioned opportunity to introduce a majority system to replace the current one, proportional with a 5% barrier clause, in order to guarantee the formation of solid majorities in the future. But precisely the current situation of ‘political opacity’, in which three so-called ‘minor’ parties together represent a quarter of the electorate, makes such a suggestion of rationalization out of date, which would be perceived, and therefore rejected, by public opinion. as an instrumental manipulation carried out by the major parties to stifle free confrontation and ‘seize power’.

These elections, as mentioned above, were mainly characterized by the resounding failure of the polls, a bit like what happened, albeit in a very different context, in 2004 on the occasion of the Spanish elections. The forecasts have all been denied: just think, for example, that on the eve of the vote, and exactly on September 16, the most important German polling research institute, that of Allensbach, still assigned a percentage of 41 to the CDU / CSU, 5. The Forsa, on the other hand, foresaw a result that fluctuated between 41 and 43% for the Christian Democrats. What are the possible explanations for this sensational mistake? According to many, the incorrect forecasts would confirm the idea that polls are at best capable of returning the mood of the electorate at a given moment, while the weakening of the link between voters and parties would have swelled the ranks of undecided and non-voters. It appears, in fact, that this time as many as 29% of voters would have decided how to vote in the last year, or only in the week preceding the elections or, even, on the day they would go to the polls.

That dramatic shifts took place within the two camps in the ‘last meters’ can be traced back to what scholars indicate as a tactically rational choice. Basically, on the right, many Christian Democrat voters would have preferred to vote liberal to declare their opposition to a grand coalition ‘for future reference’. The same would have happened on the other front, where part of the Social Democratic vote would have turned to the ‘left-left’ party (Linkspartei-PDS) to indicate preference for a ‘red-red-green’ coalition in awareness that the outgoing red-green one would not be able, as indeed it did, to win the majority of the votes. large Koalition.

Of course, from an abstractly arithmetic point of view, it appears that the German voters mostly voted to the left, but politically this perspective is impracticable due to the insuperable contrast that separates the SPD today (but tomorrow?), As well as most of the Greens. by the Linkspartei-PDS, the ‘left-left’ party led by the former social democratic leader Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi, whose success was achieved precisely against the SPD, from which it stole over a million votes. On the other hand, the main reason for the defeat of the CDU / CSU is due precisely to the very strong transfer of Christian Democratic votes in favor of the liberal party. If we examine the outcome of the vote, we also realize that theoretically other different government majorities would be possible, Ampelkoalition (the red-green-yellow ‘traffic light’ coalition, formed by Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals) or the one nicknamed Jamaica by the colors of that country’s flag, black, yellow and green, corresponding to a coalition formed by Christian Democrats, Liberals and Greens. But at this moment all the alternatives other than a large Koalition are politically impracticable due, as already mentioned, to the reciprocal vetoes and the programmatic contrasts of the different parties.

Observing what we could define the ‘geography of the vote’, it can be said that this electoral round also confirmed a trend already noted previously, namely that when in Germany there is a vote to elect the federal government certain Länder, in particular the North and the center of the country, they vote by majority for the left even if they make opposite choices in the administrative elections. In this sense, the case of North-Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous Land in Germany with over 12 million voters, which the CDU in May 2005 had managed to snatch from the SPD for the first time after the war and in which, only four months later, he lost over 10% of the votes.

According to proexchangerates, the two major parties lost mainly in the eastern regions, in what had once been the German Democratic Republic: the SPD, while remaining the first political force with 30.5% of the votes, fell by 9 compared to 2002., 4%; the CDU with 25.3% was only third, behind the Linkspartei. In the five Länder of the East it obtained an average of 25.4%, while in the remaining Länder it had an average of 4.9%, which means that without the decisive contribution of the East it would not have exceeded the threshold of 5%. However, analysts pointed out that in many regions of the old Western Federal Republic (Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, North-Rhine-Westphalia and in the city-states of Hamburg and Bremen) the Linkspartei clearly went over 5%.

Germany in the 21st Century 4