Angela Merkel didn’t exactly win the German election last night, but she got what she wanted: a second term as chancellor, this time at the head of a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats. Merkel’s Christian Democrats actually did badly—their share of the vote dropped from the 35 per cent they held four years ago, to 34 per cent, the second-worst result in their history. But thanks to the geometry of German coalition politics and the spectacular success of the Free Democrats, who won 15 per cent of the vote—their best ever result—Merkel comes out of last night’s election stronger than she was before. It is a situation somewhat reminiscent of 2002, when the Greens saved Gerhard Schröder’s “red-green” government.
German election: “a bitter day for social democracy”
With parliament hanging in the balance and Europe gently melting into crisis, what does...