Dead Men Left

Monday, September 19, 2005

Wacht auf, Verdammte dieser Erde

Quickly, for now, but what a thoroughly superb result:

CDU – 35.2% (225 Seats)
SPD – 34.3% (222 Seats)
Free Democrats – 9.8% (61 seats)
Left Party – 8.7% (57 seats)
Greens – 8.1 % (51 seats)

(as of Monday 10am)

The CDU have done significantly worse than polls expected: from a seemingly insurmountable 21 per cent lead over the SPD, they've slid back to barely scraping a single percentage point above Schroeder's party.

Phil at Actually Existing pointed out via email that, from a rock-solid 50% vote for the CDU-FDP, the right's combined total has has remained in the doldrums since reunification.

Even better, the Left Party is in third place in three (of 15) Laender, and second in a further three, ahead of the CDU. The Left Party's fantastic showing is directly related to the Christian Democrats' decline: prior to the alliance between WASG and the PDS, the CDU was on course to win a huge vote in the east; after its formation, the Left knocked a huge chunk of its support away. That, and the decided swing to the left across the country in general, was enough to deprive them of the votes they needed.

In the west, meanwhile, the radical left is gaining substantial support for the first time in 70-odd years. Significant pressure on its well-established working-class base from the Left Party forced the SPD to tack rhetorically a long way from its neoliberal "reform" programme. The CDU were denounced for their "cold" programme that failed to account for "social justice", whilst the flat-tax albatross undoubtedly cost Merkel thousands of votes.

You wouldn't have guessed it from, for example, the BBC report this morning, but the biggest single story emerging from the German poll is that the radical left have not only established a firm base across both east and west Germany, but have forced the German political establishment into its gravest crisis at least since reunification.

The best indicator, though, of the left's rise comes from the markets. They don't like the result one little bit:

Merkel's failure to win support for her plan may also make other politicians across Europe less prepared to make proposals that risk alienating the electorate.

"It's hard to get people to vote for the painful medicine you really need," said JPMorgan's Mackie. "It's not obvious where it's going to come from. I don't really see anyone offering it in France or Italy either."

Having forfeited their confidence, perhaps JP Morgan could dissolve these people and elect another?

And incredibly - or, really, not "incredibly" at all:

"We have to explore everything with the Greens," CDU economy and labor policy expert Peter Mueller, who is also prime minister of the state of Saarland, told reporters in Berlin today.

(Perhaps the Greens, too often little more than the FDP with windfarms, could follow the example of their friends in Leeds. Atomkraft - nein danke! Gewerkscahft - nein danke! has a certain ring to it.)

Lenin has a little more (and some good discussion in the comments), but check also Direland and A Fistful of Euros.

Update: Jonathan Steele is spot-on, here:

...Sunday's central message was a protest against neoliberalism. It had much in common with this summer's votes in France and the Netherlands against the EU constitution. Germany's paradox is that a country which is the world's second-largest exporter and can compete globally has an internal market where employers decline to invest, small business stagnates and joblessness is high. Then people are asked to sacrifice the welfare state they built up after 1945. Confused, bitter and bereft of leaders with a convincing programme, many are joining a growing trend in saying that there must be another course.

There is now the potential, probably everywhere, to create broad-based radical parties in opposition to neoliberalism. The language and the style of the politics needed have been around for a while, in the form of the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements; what is now being demonstrated is that the social base exists to support popular parties built on these lines.