Analysis: Is Merkel’s big win a mixed blessing?

Angela Merkel and CDU party officials pose for photos at the party's headquarters in Berlin on Monday.
It is not often you see Germans lose control. But late Sunday night at the party headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union Angela Merkel’s followers were dancing to tunes like “Sex Bomb,” by Tom Jones, many sporting black t-shirts saying, “We Will Remain Chancellor.”

It was the victor herself, Angela Merkel, who called her party members to order. “These are difficult economic times,” she noted in a short speech that was drowned out by “Angie, Angie” chants from the euphoric crowd. Yes, Angela Merkel has won the German elections. Yes, she can probably form a governing coalition with liberal democratic, pro-business FDP. And yes, her main rivals, the Social Democrats lost around 10 percent with their worst showing since World War II. But the CDU’s numbers were also some of the worst in the party’s history and now Angela Merkel will enter into coalition talks with a party that will push her hard for economic reforms that could prove hard to swallow for much of the German public. “We are happy about this splendid result,” said Guido Westerwelle the FDP’s chairman. “We do know however that this above all means responsibility. And we are ready to take on that responsibility.”

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Analysis: German power lies in coalition

The FDP has been waiting a long for this day. They have been out of power since 1998 when CDU chancellor Helmut Kohl was unseated by Gerhard Schroeder’s SPD. Since then the party has undergone a long healing and rebuilding process and have now managed to achieve one of the best results in their history. What does this mean for the chancellor For one thing it seems clear that the she only managed to win thanks to the FDP and its new queenmaker Guido Westerwelle. That means the liberals will now want to exert influence, especially on Germany’s economic policies. Tax cuts, cuts in social welfare benefits and cuts in government spending. These are all things Angela Merkel promised in her campaign, but few believed she would have followed up on had she continued her grand coalition with the Social Democrats. The question for many experts is simply: How will the government pay for all this

The answers Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle gave during their election campaigns remained vague. For the past four years Angela Merkel has expanded her power by grabbing issues normally championed by the social democrats. That made her strong and kept the Social Democrats weak. Now the strong and bold liberal democratic FDP and its leader Guido Westerwelle stand ready to implement a business-friendly market-liberal agenda. It remains to be seen whether the chancellor can keep pace.