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September 18, 2005
German Exit Polling Shows Race Too Close To Call

A number of bloggers have followed the lead of the news media in declaring Gerhard Schroeder the loser in German elections today, but based on the exit polling, it's hard to make that case just yet. The latest AP numbers show a margin that falls inside the margin of error, a result that a couple of weeks ago seemed unlikely:

Exit polls showed conservative challenger Angela Merkel's party leading in German parliamentary elections Sunday, but falling short of the majority she needs to form a center-right coalition even as voters ousted Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government.

Still, Merkel claimed her party had received a mandate from voters to form a new coalition government, and she would talk to all parties with the exception of a small left-wing group as she tried to become Germany's first female chancellor.

"What is important now is to form a stable government for the people in Germany, and we ... quite clearly have the mandate to do that," she said.

Left Party leader Oskar Lafontaine ruled out forming an alliance with Schroeder's party, shutting out the chance of an all-left coalition.

American bloggers in particular would like to see Schroeder and his anti-American campaigning get consigned to the dustbin of history, but it doesn't look that we can wave goodbye to Gerhard just yet. Merkel's CDU numbers in exit polling come to 35.9% as opposed to Schroeder's 33.6%. A difference of 2.3% in exit polling really means a dead heat, as it falls within any normal margin of error. More to the point, those results show significant momentum for the incumbent over the last couple of weeks. Merkel had not polled below 40% prior to the election, and I believe Schroeder had not polled above 30%.

It may well be that Merkel pulls off the plurality. If so, she will get first shot at forming a government, but that momentum towards Schroeder in the final days may play hell with her ability to build a ruling coalition. Assuming she does, that coalition will likely to remain brittle and fragile. I think, though, that rather than relying on exit polls -- especially after the American experience with them -- we had better wait for the actual results to come in before popping the champagne corks.

UPDATE: Keep checking in with Medienkritik, the on-site experts. Now the gap between the SPD and the CDU has closed to 1.2%, and they have not yet counted the votes. Schroeder might still pull this off, either through an outright plurality or by convincing a triumvirate of political parties to keep him in the Chancellery.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 18, 2005 12:46 PM

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» Good Riddance Schroeder from The Strata-Sphere
It appears the limp, feckled Schroeder, who could only get votes by bad mouthing Germany’s allies at election time, is being shown the door: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government was voted out of office Sunday as conservative c... [Read More]

Tracked on September 18, 2005 1:02 PM

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