[EM] Some observations from today's German elections

Jobst Heitzig heitzig-j at web.de
Sun Sep 18 13:42:49 PDT 2005

Dear folks!

Here's some remarkable observations from today's elections for German

- Both major factions (Social Democrats SPD vs. Christian Democrats CDU
+ Christian Socialists CSU) have lost many votes compared to the 2002
elections and are now, according to the last prognoses, very close
(34.2% vs. 35% of the vote). Nevertheless, both their candidates for
office of chancellor (Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel) have
declared already that they consider the vote a clear mandate for the
respective party.

- Traditionally, the largest faction in parliament tries to build a
coalition to elect their candidate for chancellor. At the moment, this
seems to be the CDU/CSU faction. However, because CDU and CSU are
actually two parties with independent programs, the SPD now argues that
the chancellor should be the candidate from the largest *party*, which
at the moment is the SPD.

- The new German parliament will consist of five factions: SPD and
CDU/CDU with somewhat more than one third of the seats each, and Free
Democrats (FDP), Greens, and Leftists with about 10% of the seats each.
It is not clear how these five factions fit into a one- or
two-dimensional political sprectrum, so there are a large number of
technically possible and politically not a priori unthinkable
coalitions. Technically, there are seven possible *critical* coalitions
(critical coalition = subset of the set of factions which has a majority
of the seats but no strict subset has a majority of the seats), of which
only three seem unthinkable, leaving as possible critical coalitions the
following four:
  SPD+Greens+Leftists (some consider this also unthinkable)
Following Banzhaf, this would mean that the factions which build the
current government, SPD and Greens, each still have the most power:
  SPD and Greens each belong to 3 possible critical coalitions,
  CDU/CSU and FDP each belong to only 2 possible critical coalitions.
  The Leftists belong to only 1 possible critical coalition.

Yours, Jobst

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