The real story of the German election, which has not been accurately reported in the American corporate media, is that the left won.
The combined tallies of the ruling Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, its coalition partner the Green Party, and a new leftist party, the Left Party, composed of the former Communist Party of the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and breakaway leftists from the SDP, add up to almost 52 percent of the vote, and represent a majority of the Bundestag, the German parliament.
But Schroeder and the SDP, who like Tony Blair and the British Labour Party, have moved decisively away from the SDP's socialist roots and traditions, are vowing not to cut a deal with the Left Party, which of course, would be able to demand significant concessions (and important cabinet posts) from the SDP on things like continued funding of social programs, protection of unions and union jobs, and the like in return for its participation in the government.
Absent such an agreement with the Left Party, Schroeder, to cobble together a working parliamentary majority, would have to hang onto his current pact with the Greens and cut a deal with the economically conservative Free Democratic Party. The latter deal would pull the coalition much farther to the right than even the main SDP membership wants. There is also the risk that the Greens would refuse to join such a coalition, leaving the SDP still without a governing majority.
In the end, absent selling his party's soul to the FDP (which would likely lead to further SDP defections to the Left Party), Schroeder's only real choices are to accept a coalition that includes the Left Party, or to agree to a secondary role in a so-called "grand coalition" with the Conservative Union of his opponent, Angela Merkel, who has been described as a German Margaret Thatcher, hell-bent on dragging Germany and Germans away from the welfare state and into an American-style society where the rich get to keep their money and losers are left by the wayside to fend for themselves.
The reality shown in the election results is that a majority of Germans don't want to see such a disaster foisted upon them, but you wouldn't know that from following the American press, which was rooting for a big Merkel win, characterized typically in pre-election reports as representing a victory of reaction but for "reform."
Schroeder himself, and his shriveled SDP, have clearly taken a deserved drubbing, but not because they have been pursuing a socialist political model. It is defections to the left, in the form of the Left Party, that forced the chancellor to call early elections, and that have left him without a governing majority to stay in power.
Germans, despite 11 percent unemployment, are not clamoring for Thatcherism. Indeed, Merkel's CDU, with 35.2 percent of the vote, suffered one of its worst electoral showings, garnering only .9 percent more votes and 3 more seats than Schroeder's own discredited and fractured SDP.
The newly formed Left Party, in its first national election foray, garnered 8.7 percent of the vote, out-polling the Green Party?not a bad showing when one considers how many Left Party sympathizers must have held their noses and voted for Schroeder and the SDP, fearing that polls predicting a decisive Merkel win might have been correct.
The U.S. media seem unwilling to admit that a country as economically well off, and as socially and politically conservative, as Germany, might have a majority that favors socialist or progressive solutions to economic and social problems, and might reject a candidate as sympathetic to American political views and American foreign policy as Merkel and the CDU, but that is the real message of the German election.