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September 29, 2005
Has Schroeder Seen The Light Yet?

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder may have changed his mind about a grand coalition between his SDP and the party that barely supplanted its plurality position in the last election, Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat/CSU alliance. Previously dismissive of any arrangement for power sharing between the two top votegetters in the last election, Schroeder has apparently agreed to consider a lesser post than Chancellor in a belatd recognition of the reality of the vote count:

Emerging from the talks, the chancellor said he was confident the two parties could work together in government. "I believe we can - we will - succeed in bringing together a stable coalition that will last for four years and bring Germany further down the path of reform," he said. Mrs Merkel described the talks as serious and constructive. She said she was "pleasantly surprised" by Mr Schrder's willingness to discuss "serious themes".

Schroeder yesterday told the press that "personnel issues" should get addressed later in the process when asked about the Chancellory, but the talks clearly indicate that Schroeder recognizes no other way for the SPD to remain in power. The CDU/CSU will never allow Schroeder to remain at the head of government after having won the most seats in the Bundestag, albeit by a razor-thin margin. His personal unpopularity alone would make such a move political suicide. Besides, the CDU/CSU did not go through all the effort needed to win a plurality just to see the executive remain in the hands of the center-left.

If these talks result in a grand coalition, as Germans hope it will, it probably won't last long. The differences between the parties seem rather wide, and the unexpectedly mediocre showing by the CDU/CSU has given Schroeder a new lease on political life and on his enormous ego. We can expect him to cause problems no matter where he lands in the new government, making life unpleasant for Angela Merkel or whoever else ascends to the Chancellory in his place.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 29, 2005 4:59 AM

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