Liberals, Pirates, and other winners: Germany has voted
THE VOTES ARE COUNTED, the champagne bottles stand empty, the tears of triumph and despair have been dried, and Europe's most populous country is awakening to a new political dawn.
After four years of a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) under Angela Merkel are about to return to their traditional coalition with the liberal (i.e. business-oriented) Free Democratic Party (FDP) under its leader Guido Westerwelle, who will likely become foreign minister. The FDP achieved an astonishing triumph vis-à-vis 2005, climbing from 9.8% to a previously unimaginable 14.6%. Angela Merkel's CDU slipped from 34.2% to 33.8% but remains the largest party. The future Conservative-Liberal government is expected to pursue privatization and deregulation, tax cuts, higher university fees, enhanced family benefits, tougher law and order policies, and a more muscular foreign policy. This will come at the expense of social welfare programs, job guarantees, and environmental protection. But whatever they decide to do, they'll need all the ideas they can get when it comes to tackling the collapse of the country's export market, rising unemployment, domestic terror threats, and Germany's increasingly unpopular military involvement in Afghanistan.
The SPD saw its worst result since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949, plummeting from an anemic 34.2% in 2005 to an appalling 23% this year. Many of its lost votes were snatched up by the booming Left Party, the rebooted East German communist party, which improved its position from 8.7% to 11.9% and is hoping one day to surpass the SPD as the voice of Germany's left wing. The Green Party rose from 8.1% in 2005 to a record 10.7%.
Nearly two dozen micro-parties shared the bottom 6%. The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) picked up some votes in Germany's eastern regions, but it lost ground nationwide and polled a disastrous 1.5% percent. The Federal Government is currently seeking to ban it altogether.
Coming in at just 1.5%, these neo-Nazis
seem to be lacking the "Reich" stuff
The Animal Protection Party rose from almost zero to 0.5%. The Civil Rights Movement for Solidarity (BüSo), a cult-like faction managed by Lyndon LaRouche's German wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche, remained unchanged at a less than inspiring 0.1%. The Violets - for spiritual politics made massive gains, soaring from 0.005% to 0.1% in just four years. The nationalist and anti-Islamic Christian Middle - for a Germany according to GOD's commandments flew across the finish line on a wing and a prayer and held fast with a solid 0.0%.
Voter participation stood at a record low - just 72% compared to over 77% in 2005.
The Pirate Party came in at 2% nationwide, a thoroughly respectable result for a brand-new party and about what its youthful members expected. The Pirates won 3.35% of the vote in Berlin alone, polling 6% in the trendy Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district. Since an overall minimum of 5% is needed to receive a mandate, this means they will not be boarding the Bundestag any time soon. At least, that's the official result here on the ground. The results out in cyberspace, where the Pirates have set their sails, paint a very different tableau indeed. According to an analysis the Social Media Blog recently conducted of party preferences as expressed in Germany's online forums and on social networking sites, the Pirates are the absolute champions at 36%, followed by the Left Party, the Greens, the FDP, and the SPD, with the CDU coming in dead last. Moreover, this year 13% of first-time male voters cast their ballot for the party with the black sail in its logo.
So it looks as if the Pirates have tasted blood and will be sharpening their cutlasses for 2013. With a yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!