Would it surprise you to learn that Der Spiegel‘s superb English-language website has the best coverage of the German elections? Start here, with a chart showing party losses (the two big centrist parties) and gains (everyone else, with the *ahem* disappointingly non-Fascist, non-Muslim libertarian FDP as the big winners). The FDP leader will be foreign minister. Think of him as Max Bernier in baggier suits. Then go to the what-it-all-means catch-all page, a liveblog that doesn’t quite have ITQ’s zing, and this Youtube of Simon Rattle rehearsing the Berliner Philharmoniker in Haydn’s The Seasons, just for kicks.
- The cheap talking point of the next few days in Ottawa will be that Germany just switched from a coalition of the centre-right and centre-left to a coalition of the centre-right and the slightly-righter, and nobody freaked out. It’s such a cheap talking point that I’ve already used it, tonight on CPAC. The slightly higher-value talking point is that this coalition didn’t advertise itself before the election. Angela Merkel’s choice of coalition partner remained her prerogative, and contingent on the returns, until after everyone had voted. So the Tom Flanagan argument, that coalitions should only be valid if they advertise their makeup before everyone gets to vote, wasn’t followed in Germany. And nobody’s freaking out.
- The social democrats took a pasting, by early accounts racking up the worst decline in popular-vote score in any postwar German election. This matches the result in many countries the European elections earlier this year (as does the *ahem* extremely mediocre score of extremist right-wing parties). One starts to suspect that in the current climate, voters are uncomfortable with parties that seek to expand the state (beyond what centre-right parties are already doing). If my first point above should tend to comfort Canada’s Liberals, this one should tend to scare them.
- If her new coalition geometry does allow her to become a bit more economically conservative (while allowing her to resist social-conservative pressures that are really not to her taste anyway), Merkel will have strong support from a few of the neighbours, including the libertarian (but so far disappointingly timid and mercenary) Civic Platform government in Poland, and both Britain’s Brown government and its Tory opposition.