Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 03:06:24 AM EST
The Lower Saxony elections looked hung for quite a while before it emerged that the SPD and Greens had the edge.
Centre left ousts Merkel coalition in cliffhanger state vote | Reuters
The SPD and Greens won 46.3 percent against 45.9 percent for the CDU and their Free Democrat partners - who easily cleared the five percent hurdle to enter the assembly with a vote of 9.9 percent - twice what had been expected.
No, the FDP didn't disappear, unfortunately.
"What is astonishing is that it looks like the CDU had a hidden campaign to get voters to use their second vote for the FDP so they could hold on to power," said politics professor Gero Neugebauer at Berlin's Free University.
"Yet the FDP didn't pick up all the votes lost to the CDU. As a whole the centre-right bloc lost support in Lower Saxony."
Setback for Angela Merkel after tight election defeat in Lower Saxony | World news | guardian.co.uk
Initial analysis suggested tactical voting was to blame for the CDU's 6.5% drop in support, as 100,000 CDU voters believing their party to be in safe waters, chose to place their votes with the FDP instead to prevent it from disappearing from the political scene altogether and leading to the end of the coalition.
Peer Steinbrück said the SDP had campaigned poorly and he took his share of responsibilty for that. But (Reuters as above):
SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel - a former state premier of Lower Saxony himself - said with a smile: "If we get a result like this when we mess up, we can do anything."
But if "anything" means Agenda 2010 and the Hartz reforms, continued support for "competitiveness" and "sound money", just how much does it really matter who's in power? 46.3 against 45.9? The other way round? Same old stalemate and lack of a genuine alternative?
(h/t IM for part of the title ;))