27 September 2009

Some thoughts on the German election results and relevance for the UK

Interesting set of election results coming out of Germany at the moment. Looks like Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (centre-right) are going to form a coalition with the Free Democrats (right wing free marketeers). The left parties - Die Linke (hard left) and the Greens - both did well, securing a combined 23% of the vote. The Social Democrats (Blairite) collapsed to 23% of the vote. So the momentum is all with the far left and the far right.

The CDU played the John Major option: portraying Merkel as a 'safe pair of hands'. That seemed to work OK but those new coalition partners in the Free Democrats ain't gonna want business as usual. They're gonna want slash'n'burn. Could get ugly.

So once again in Europe, the Blairite electoral prescription for the centre-left has been tested, and found utterly wanting. Looks like Germany is headed for the same thing that Tony Benn identified for the UK in 1979: "a bit more left, and a bit more right, and a lot less of the soggy centre".

For the moment that means a right-wing approach. But given that the Free Democrats' policies will condemn Germany to the same economic disaster that is currently consuming countries like Latvia and Ireland, we can expect a big shift to the hard left next time round.

The lesson for New Labour in the UK? The centre left is dead. In the new political order it's back to the early 80s - you're either left or you're right. So which is it gonna be, guys? Jon Cruddas knows it's time for the left, but do any of the rest of ya know?

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