German elections: it could be weeks
The Beeb, as ever, has a load of good info, including the wonderful bit "Mr Schroeder said he could not understand how the CDU 'stakes a claim to political leadership from a disastrous election result'" - because, erm... they beat you by 1% and yet you're still claiming power? Nice one, Gerdy...
Meanwhile Ostracised from Österreich looks at some potential coalitions after liveblogging yesterday's results, while North Sea Diaries points out that, despite the scare stories about the German economy and unemployment, comparisons to 1970s Britain (and thus Merkel to Thatcher) are not as accurate as many believe.
Medienkritik has the German electoral map - showing a rather hefty north/south, east/west divide. He's also provided a similar map of unemployment figures, hinting at a correlation, as well as a bit more coalition speculation.
Over at Bildt Comments, in Berlin everything's unclear except the weather - the only thing that's certain is that "there are distinctly more losers than winners" - and the Dresden election in two weeks could end up decisive. Possibly. Depending on everything else that happens. Perhaps.
Whether or not this result is as bad as some seem to think (sections of the German press apparently calling it "fatal") it's simply too early to say. But if even the German press don't know what to make of it, you can be sure that anything you read in the English language press will be even less helpful - not least thanks to the animosity with Britain and America that Schröder's managed to build up over the last few years (and that Merkel could, lazily, be mistaken for a Neocon).
Expect a load of punditry on potential German governments in the European press over the next couple of weeks, in other words. Most of it more or less ill-informed, all of it highly speculative and based in little in the way of knowledge or fact.
Update: Hysteria from the Commission. Well, not hysteria, exactly, but can't we just let the Germans sort out their problems for themselves? It's not like they actually WANT a political deadlock. Well, except for the fact that that's what they voted for...
(Oh, and can someone tell Mandelson to shut up about "social models"? Whenever I hear that phrase I think of those little postcard adverts you get in the phone boxes around Soho. As such, a "new social model" appears to feel quite nice for a bit but then leave you feeling ripped off, broke and dosed up on clap. Not that I'd know, obviously...)
By the by, this should be read if you want to know what's going on - a nice overview with good analysis, and even a few nuggets along the lines of "the F.D.P. served chicken wings in their car park". Can't be bad.