Election day: What to watch for when the numbers come up
It's 5 pm in Germany, one hour before the polling stations close, and the first projections are published. Throughout the country, it's been a day of radiant sun and blue skies €“ the kind of day that Germans prefer to spend hiking in the mountains, or grilling at a lake, rather than waiting in lines outside of polling booths? A 6 percent drop in voter participation would seem to indicate that Germans may indeed just have opted out of voting in this election. Then again, there are reports that an exceptional number of Germans have voted ahead of time by making use of a provision that allows them to send their ballot in the mail. It may take until well into Monday or even Tuesday until all the ballots are counted. Numbers to watch for:
In 2005, the center-right CDU got 35.2%, the center-left SPD 34.2 %, the liberal FDP 9.8 %, the Greens 8.1%, the Left Party 8.7%, and "others" (about two dozen small parties, most or none of whom will make it past the 5% threshold provision to get into the legislature) at 5 %.
- CDU: The Christian Democrats' lead has narrowed from around 36 to 33 percent; if it does worse than its 35.2 % in 2005, this will weaken Merkel's position not just in coalition negotiations, but in her own party; to govern with its preferred coalition partner, the business-friendly
- FDP, the two parties need at least 46-47% percent
- FDP: the FDP too had first nearly doubled its 2005 result to up to 16% in the polls, and now finds itself back near 14%
- SPD: the Social Democrats have been trending at 25% in the polls €“ if they don't manage to catch up dramatically in the race to the finish, that would be their worst result since 1949, and the end of the current leadership's political career
- Left Party: the Left Party, created in 1990, has moved since them from 2.4% to 4.0% in 2002 and 8.7 % in 2005 €“ can it break through the 10% ceiling? If so, the debate about SPD-Left coalitions on the national level will intensify
- Greens: will the Greens drop back into political insignificance below the 10% threshold?
- Large vs. small parties: will the three small opposition parties €“ Liberals, Greens and Left €“ take votes from the two "popular parties" CDU and SPD, who have seen their joint polls drop from nearly 90 decades ago to their worst joint showing ever in 2005, at 69.2
- Voter participation: the 2005 participation rate was the worst ever, at 77.7% - will this year's result be even worse
Next: election analysis; potential models and their implication for the course of German politics
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