Contrary to what polls predicted, the CDU’s results in the German elections were disappointing. The party is leading, but far from the number of votes expected since the moment Gerhard Schröder called for early elections after the negative results of his party in the regional elections and loss of the popular support of his reforms. The spectacular progress of liberal-democrats has not enabled him to ensure a majority of the centre-right block. The situation is complex and the outcome could depend on Dresden, where the voting has been postponed until October 2nd.
The old majority is a minority now in Bundestag, but nobody knows what coalition will take power. The Left party excluded participation in a government, liberals don’t want to ally with another party but the CDU. The most likely option is, therefore, a “great coalition” made up by the SPD and the CDU. But Gerhard Schröder refused to support a government led by Mrs. Merkel. The alliance of the two main parties seems to be excluded, at least in what concerns to both leaders. Under these conditions and after losing our role as the driving force of the European economic growth, are we dealing with the end of the governmental stability that has always been the key of the economic and political success in Germany?
The answer is simple: no. It’s not the first time this political game takes place in Germany. This is even a common situation at the regional level. This time, the result is uncertain but national and diplomatic consequences are rather reassuring. The urgent need for internal compromise could allow the discussion of the more thorny issues. This necessary commitment has an impact on transatlantic relations too. It’s expected that Mrs. Merkel gets more involved in the German-American policy, but we should not expect radical changes for the German opinion still opposes all military commitments. With regard to Franco-German relations, any government should try to make emphasis on the role played by this alliance.
In short, a distant look offers more tranquilizing perspectives for the most important German associates than what these ambiguous results could suggest at the beginning.

Le Figaro (France)
Circulation: 350 000 copies. Property of Socpresse (founded by Robert Hersant, it is owned today by planes manufacturer Serge Dassault). This is the reference journal of the French right.

L’ambiguïté n’annonce pas l’instabilité″, by Andreas Hotes and Kai Wegrich, Le Figaro, September 20, 2005.