Election Resonates Abroad | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 19.09.2005

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Election Resonates Abroad

As news of election gridlock spreads around the world many regions are left wondering what will be the new face of German foriegn policy?

The world reacts to German election deadlock

The world reacts to German election deadlock

Angela Merkel's CDU party garnered the slimmest of majorities (less then one percent) over Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Sunday's general election. The close numbers provide neither party with a clear majority, the consequence of which has left both sides claiming a very shaky victory.

The Atlanticist?

Reaction to the German election stalemate in the United States remains neutral. Relations between President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder are businesslike after a period of estrangement over the Iraq War. But Bush may be dealing with a potentially more supportive leader in Berlin if Schröder gives up the chancellorship.

Merkel has promised a return to the fundamental postwar German diplomacy espoused by her mentor Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The would mean building up trans-Atlantic relations while remaining France's partner at the core of the European Union.

Gerhard Schröder und George Bush Gespräch

One day after the opening of the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush listens to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder during a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003.

Schröder has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war and this has been an irritant in relations with Bush. But Merkel has also said she would not send German troops to Iraq.

"In Washington, Schröder is considered as representing all that is evil and Merkel all that is good", said John Holsman, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The truth is somewhere in the middle."

Daniel Scheschkewitz, Deutsche Welle's correspondent in Washington, said that regardless of who heads Germany's next government, a high level of cooperation between the US and Germany is crucial.

"The United States government will reach out to the German government, whatever the final shape may be, and whoever might be chancellor, be it Merkel or Schröder," he said. "They have urgent business, not only in Iran but also there have been elections in Afghanistan and the US expects Germany to sustain troop levels there."

Policy toward Eastern Europe

Wladimir Putin besucht Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russian embassy in Berlin in September.

Merkel has indicated she would like to loosen the close ties Schöder has with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. As someone who grew up in the former East Germany and speaks Russian, she is sympathetic to many countries in eastern and central Europe that were formerly part of the Soviet Bloc and are now members of the EU or candidates to join.

The United States has close relations with many of these nations in what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has referred to as the "New Europe."

Gennadiy Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of Russia, has expressed hope that the German policy will not become pro-American.

"It would be unfortunate to see Germany take up pro-American policy when Bush is banging his armored fists and is ready to dictate his terms to everyone," Zyuganov told Russian news agency Interfax.

Economic and political concerns in China

Changes in Germany's ruling government could have implications for Asia as well. In China, many officials are fearful that a shift to the right might prompt an Angela Merkel-led Bundestag to increases restrictions on imports of Chinese goods. Such a move might be seen as resolving the high domestic unemployment rate as well supporting the EU arms embargo.

Still, an editorial in Beijing's China Times newspaper did not paint a picture of grave concern.

"If Schröder wins, Sino-German relations will continue to develop. If Merkel takes power, Sino-German relations will have changes, but these changes will not be earth shaking. Germany led by Merkel may adopt a close foreign policy with the US and Britain, and bring out the 'human rights' and 'democracy' cards in contacts with China, and demand dialogue."

EU membership a critical issue for Turkey

Türkei, EU-Beitritt

A big part of Turkey's bid for EU membership hinges on Chancellor Schröders positive endorsement

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday hailed the success of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's campaign to deny a clear victory to opposition conservative Angela Merkel, who is against Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

"I want to say that Schröder led a campaign which in my opinion succeeded," Erdogan said during a brief press conference at Ankara's airport.

Schröder's Social Democrats are in favor of launching EU membership talks with Turkey as planned next month, unlike Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, which is opposed to giving Ankara full membership in the bloc.

The CDU has pushed instead for a "privileged partnership" between Ankara and Brussels, a proposal Turkey has rejected.

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