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  • German election results still highly uncertain, and might even be found invalid

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on September 17th, 2005 (All posts by )

    It shouldn’t be this close

    On Sunday, an estimated 69.1 million Germans — among them 2.6 million first-time voters — will head to the polls to elect a new parliament with 3,648 candidates vying for 598 seats. Polls will open at 8 a.m. CET and close at 6 p.m.

    Latest opinion polls show support for the conservative alliance of Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) at between 41 and 43 percent and about 8 percent for their preferred coalition partners, the free-market liberal FDP.

    Schröder’s Social Democrats (SPD) came in second at 32 to 34 percent, while their junior coalition partner, the Greens could take six to seven percent of the vote.

    These numbers might not mean much, though:

    For one, the emergence of the Left Party, a new alliance comprising disgruntled Social Democrats and former communists who pollsters say could grab as much as up to eight percent of the vote, could skew the likely combinations leading to the possibility of a so-called “grand coalition” between the CDU and the SPD.

    “More than 20 percent of registered voters said they were undecided just days before the election — the highest rate ever before a federal poll,” the head of the independent opinion research institute Infratest Dimap, Richard Hilmer, told Saturday’s Die Welt newspaper.

    “More than 20 percent of registered voters said they were undecided just days before the election — the highest rate ever before a federal poll,” the head of the independent opinion research institute Infratest Dimap, Richard Hilmer, told Saturday’s Die Welt newspaper.

    What’s more, the result might be pronounced invalid by the courts:

    The election in Dresden was postponed by Germany’s federal election commissioner after Kerstin Lorenz, the candidate for the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) died of a stroke last week. A replacement has already been found in Franz Schönhuber, the former national leader of another right wing-extremist party, but there isn’t enough time to reprint ballots before Sunday.

    As the race for the chancellery becomes tighter with the election just days away, politicians and legal experts are mulling the ramifications of a late vote in Dresden, with some saying that a delayed election could throw into question the legality of the national vote.

    Experts such as Werner Patzelt, a political scientist from Dresden University, predicted political turmoil if the race turns out to be extremely narrow as in the last election, where Social Democrats (SPD) only had about 6,000 votes more than the Christian Democrats (CDU).

    Hans Meyer, a professor of constitutional law and former president of Berlin’s Humboldt University, said he believes the election outcome will be challenged should Dresdeners vote after the results in the rest of the country have already become public.

    While local candidates for other parties also complained about the postponed election, officials at the national level said they didn’t see this as a problem.

    “Maybe it’s possible in Africa to hold back election results for a couple of weeks, but you cannot do that in Germany,” Dirk Niebel, the FDP’s general secretary, said on the morning show of Germany’s public broadcasters.

    Other legal experts also said that there was nothing illegal about a late vote in Dresden.

    “There’s no law that forbids this,” Gottfried Mahrenholz, a former constitutional court judge, told German public radio, Deutschlandfunk. Late votes already took place in 1961 and 1965 after candidates died shortly before the election.

     

    One Response to “German election results still highly uncertain, and might even be found invalid”

    1. Frank Johnson Says:

      Good Service