Electoral Shift20 Oct 2002
A couple days ago, Stefan Sharkansky responded to Victor Davis Hanson's post-mortum on the German election with the following: "The election was close, but it was a regional victory. Schroeder won in the former Communist East. The more pro-American Stoiber won among America's allies of more than 5 decades in the West...."
I wouldn't overestimate the influence of the eastern states, with just 18% of the electorate. Yes, the 5 eastern states overwhelmingly supported the SPD (39.2% to 29.0%) while the west favored the Union (40.6% to 37.9%). However, the Union won just 3 of 11 western states. Stoiber's majority in the west came from his landslide in Bavaria (42.2% to 33.1%). If Bavaria is excluded, the SPD handily won the 'rest of the west' (40.8% to 36.4%). The north-south divide is just as pronounced as east-west.
From the beginning of the Federal Republic, the Union could count on a 'Bürgerliche Mehrheit', a center-right majority (the SPD governments of Brandt and Schmidt were exceptions when the FDP jumped ship). Now the center-right has lost two elections in a row. The self-destruction of the PDS can only further help the SPD. At today's SPD party congress to approve the new coalition, Chancellor Schröder declared that 'now, once and for all, this is no longer a CDU country'. Unless the Union can find a new long-term strategy, it will stay that way.