Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Merkel Hails Victory in Germany Vote

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Merkel Hails Victory in Germany Vote

Article excerpt

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's dull but durable strategy of "no-surprises, no-conflicts" earned her party the best possible outcome in German elections tonight - with voters enabling her to form a politically comfortable "center-right" coalition with the pro- business, tax-cutting Free Democratic Party (FDP), from which she can govern from a position of relative strength, despite evident polarization between right and left in Germany. "We accomplished something amazing ... a sustainable majority ... for a new coalition ..., " said Merkel, adding: "I want to be the chancellor for all Germans ... at a moment of crisis." The outcome marks the end of the "grand-coalition" between Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party and the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD), which will leave the government of Europe's largest economy after 11 years. Indeed, the SPD showing of 23 percent was a sharp blow to the proud, 160-year-old party, its lowest score since World War II - and a continuation of a season of setbacks for the left around Europe. "These are catastrophic numbers for the SPD," notes Jan Techau of the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. 'Black-gold' coalition For Merkel, a "center-right" CDU-FDP government, called a "black-gold" coalition in the German political lexicon, is likely to help her shape a liberal free-market economic policy more to her liking. Only days ago, pundits anticipated that Merkel would be forced back into a revamped grand coalition with the SPD. Yet that coalition would have been on shakier ground - with the SPD expected to quickly push hard on leftist policies on minimum wage and foreign policy in a prelude to busting up the coalition and bringing a new and perhaps ruling alignment among left-leaning parties. Berlin CDU parliamentarian Karl Georg Wellmann argues that hot fights within the SPD would begin "within a year" to break up a new grand coalition: "Big parts, 50 percent of the SPD, are strong on the left side, and this wing of the party is committed to merge with the other left parties. …

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