While everybody's oohing and aahing the landslide victory of Mutti Merkel (CDU) and her style of craftily orchestrated monarchic passivity, these election results do reveal something about how Germany is changing... for the better. Here are five things to be cheerful about!
1. The Volk have chased Merkel's preferred coaltion partner, the big-business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) out of town! The "yellows" failed to score the five percent of the vote to get into parliament – for the first time since World War II. This extraordinary news. Once referred to as the kingmakers of West German politics for their power to make or break a coalition government with the left or right, the FDP have slowly but surely shrivelled from a party known for promoting "free market values" and personal liberty into little more than the lapdog of big business, which is happy to do the dirty work of the private health insurance industry, big finance, big pharma, big energy, and the hotel lobby (even sneaking through a totally unjustified tax break for hotels four years ago) – to name a few of their favourite friends in the business community. Their defeat on Sunday resulted in random outbreaks of schadenfreude across the nation.
2. The majority of Germans voted for parties of the left, with the SPD, Die Linke and Greens scoring more seats combined (319) than the CDU (311). Angela Merkel will have to form a coalition with either the SPD or the Greens – and she has to take the sentiment of voters seriously. Both options would drag her government further towards the centre, meaning there should be some softening on Europe and social issues – like the growing gap between rich and poor – at home.
3. Germany voted in its first two black members of parliament: Karamba Diaby (SPD), a 51-year-old Senegalese-born chemist who moved to Halle in 1986 after receiving a scholarship to study in East Germany, and Charles M. Huber (CDU), a 56-year-old actor from Munich. This is pretty much the only thing media outside of Europe have been interested in. In Germany it appears to be a non-story. The CDU can boast its first Muslim MP in the Bundestag, 35-year-old Cemile Giousouf from Northrhine-Westphalia.
4. Alternative für Deutschaland (AfD), those elderly male anti-Euro rabble-rousers – who willingly or unwillingly attracted more than a few far-right nutjob voters - failed to reach the 5% mark.
5. The Greens got a wake-up call with their measly 8.4%. That whole not-dealing-with-the-paedophilia-thing just wasn't cool. Time for a eco-relaunch, bio-people!