The German media is on chancellor-watch as the nation wearily follows the negotiations to produce the country's next leader. Word is, the decision will "definitely" be made on Sunday. Sound familiar, anyone?
Three weeks after the election, the high-stakes poker game that will decide whether the next German chancellor is Gerhard Schröder or Angela Merkel drags on, oblivious to the bleary-eyed spectators now begging the players to finally put their cards on the table and call it a night.
The German media was all geared up for a decision to be announced on Thursday, given that Christian Democrat (CDU) leader Angela Merkel, her Bavarian ally Edmund Stoiber, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Social Democrat chief Franz Müntefering met behind closed doors for four hours.
View at the building of the 'Parlamentarische Gesellschaft' (Parliament Society) in Berlin Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005 during talks between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats about a left-right coalition in Germany
Giving in fully to the rumor mill that's been churning in Berlin's corridors of power since the inconclusive general election, German news weekly Der Spiegel posted a "rumor of the day" column on its Web site, giving up-to-the-minute reports on all the speculation surrounding Thursday's equally inconclusive talks.
The meeting ended without any announcements to the assembled reporters, and so the waiting game continues, though the end does appear to be in sight. Müntefering has given his assurances that the chancellor question will "definitely" be answered on Sunday.
Only a few more days, then, of front page pieces summing up the latest horse-trading rumors, sorting out the spin coming from various party headquarters, and speculating on what the German public wants, which according to pollsters, is another term for Schröder as chancellor, despite a recognition of the conservatives' claim to power, a claim based on a margin of just four seats.
"The situation gives us plenty of work to do, what with all the rumors, speculation, and conflicting views," said DW-RADIO's parliamentary correspondent, Uwe Hessler.
Instead of reporting on a new government over the past three weeks, he and countless other journalists found themselves delving into the complexities of the German electoral system.
"There's the issue of overhang seats, then there was the late election in Dresden which was a complicated process because of the second ballots," Hessler said, referring to the fact that while the SPD as a party won more votes in Dresden, the CDU was able to strengthen its position by winning a direct mandate in the late election. "It goes so much into fine arithmetic, and most of the public isn't interested in that level of detail."
Back to business
Germany's editorial writers are ready for the state of limbo to end
What the general public wants, say an increasing number of the nation's editorial writers, is for politicians to get back to the business of politics.
"First and foremost, the citizens have a right to be governed," wrote the Hamburger Abendblatt. "This most fundamental of political activities was pretty much shelved following the May 22 state elections in North Rhine-Westfalia."
"There's no budget for 2006, and anyone who flips through the TV channels at night can't escape the claptrap about all the arguments between the parties," the Südwest Presse wrote.
"It looks as if neither the CDU nor the SPD have quite grasped the fact that it's their duty to now pull the cart out of the mud together."