The German newspaper whose web site really could be better organized has a pretty good run-down on the latest from Schleswig-Holstein, which seems set on proving Palmerston’s adage for the 21st century.
When we last looked in, the parties had nearly deadlocked, with the SSW — a party that generally represents the Danish minority, and is thus an exception to the rule requiring parties to gain 5 percent of voters to gain seats in the legislature — holding the balance. The SSW tends to be slightly left of center, but their real sticking point was schools.
The Christian Democrats, who had won the largest share of votes, first tried to claim the mantle on that basis, but had to face the fact that they had fallen short of a majority. Then they tried to discredit the SSW, which was holding fast to positions in education that the CDU didn’t like.
Finally, it appeared that the Social Democrats and Greens would form a minority coalition, helped into power by the SSW, which would not join the government. This arrangement was supposed to provide the 35 votes necessary, the barest majority possible, for Heide Simonis to carry on as Germany’s only female state premier and (if memory serves) longest-serving premier.
But it didn’t.
Somebody in the SPD ranks abstained, leaving the two candidates (Simonis and the CDU guy) tied at 34. In fact, somebody in the SPD abstained not once, but four times. The legislature in Kiel went through four rounds secret ballots to try to break the deadlock.
Nobody appears to know who threw the monkey wrench in the works, and no one knows what’s next. Except maybe Palmerston.