If the opinion polls are to be believed, the German election on Sunday is heading for a true photo finish.
In itself this is hardly new. In the 2002 elections, the red-green Schröder coalition survived with only 6000 votes. If anything demonstrates that every vote counts, German elections certainly do.
As nerveousness is increasing, the debate about government alternatives gets increasingly confused.
It should be remembered that this election was called because Chancellor Schröder declared that he could no longer govern on his red-green basis. His own party was deserting his reform policies, and the opposition has secured a solid majority in the Bundesrat.
What Schröder said then applies today as well.
If anything, the SPD is even less likely to be able to carry reform policies after the advent of the leftist alternative on the scene, exposing its flank in a way that was not the case before. If there was to be a red-red-green majority in the parliament, one could magnify everything Schröder said when he asked for the dissolution of parliament several times.
A big coalition is now ruled out by everyone. Although sometimes working not too badly on the Länder level, there are no doubt great risks that it will just get bogged down. And SPD will still have its open front towards the left.
Such a government is unlikely to survive the full four years. And now the possibilities of actually calling new elections have increased. A great coalition should, perhaps, be given a length of two years. Since that it what everyone will be speculating about, election campaign will be round the corner, and not much in terms of serious business will be done.
So there is every reason to hope that there will be a majority for CDU/CSU and FDP. Everything else looks like being very messy indeed.
And I say this in spite of having serious reservations against the CDU/CSU policy on the importance issue of the necessary southeastern enlargement of the European Union.
Whatever happens will be of profound importance.
On Sunday, I’m heading from Geneva to Berlin in order to be at the CDU headquarters as the results start coming in.