Angela Merkel wound up winning a strange kind of election victory, the kind where your party gets less support than it got before. Still, the CDU’s support only went down a little while the Social Democrats’ support collapsed and the liberal (in a European sense) Free Democrats gained a lot. The Greens and the Left Party also picked up support. The result is going to be some controversial free market reforms for Germany (I think the evidence suggests that most Germans actually don’t want the kind of reforms that this election result will lead to) and a real moment of crisis for the SPD that needs to really rethink some things:
I note that following on the European Parliament election results and some other national results, there seems to be a continent-wide crisis of social democracy. In a great many countries, social democrats are really getting squeezed by rising far-left parties and the fact that Europe’s center-right parties tend to be inconveniently non-crazy.
It’s also noteworthy that this will lead to FDP leader Guido Westerwelle taking over as Foreign Minister of Germany. He’s openly gay and a big believer in tax cuts. I don’t think the world has ever had an out gay man in such a senior role in a major country. He’s also really not a foreign policy guy at all. But German tradition dictates that the leader of the number two party in the coalition become Foreign Minister irrespective of his background and experience.