German elections: weak victors and strong left

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The results of September's general election in Germany are contradictory. It brought to power a right wing combination of a conservative-liberal government.

But this doesn't represent a rightward shift in German society. The conservatives of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) had their worst showing since the Second World War, and the conservative-liberal camp actually lost a total of 300,000 votes.

Letter From Germany: The successes and challenges of Die Linke

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Growing economic inequality and corruption have led to huge gains by the left. Christine Buchholz writes about the successes of Die Linke, and the challenges ahead

The left in Germany was celebrating last month after making a significant breakthrough in two regional elections. The polls in Lower Saxony and Hessen saw representatives of Die Linke elected with 7.1 percent and 5.1 percent respectively. The results were major election victories for the new left party, Die Linke, in former West Germany. This initial breakthrough was followed up by 6.4 percent in the election in the city-state of Hamburg.

The election results express a shift to the left by the population as a whole - a process that has been under way for some time.

Forging a New Left

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Political paralysis, a big fall in the value of the euro and talk of a policy vacuum showed that Europe's bosses suffered a serious setback following the general election results in Germany.

Angela Merkel, the leader of the CDU and strongest advocate of neo-liberalism, was the biggest loser. Having led the polls for months and widely tipped to be the next chancellor, she was unable to secure an overall majority and is now desperately trying to cobble together some sort of workable coalition. Gerhard Schröder's SDP received its lowest vote for 15 years as people expressed their anger against high unemployment and economic stagnation. The political turmoil looks set to continue for months, leading to further instability in Europe's largest economy.


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