When Red Turns to Green

  • Share
  • Read Later
BONN: Germany's swing to the left has put smooth-talking centrist Gerhard Schroeder in power, but it may also make life difficult for the new chancellor. Schroeder was finalizing plans Monday for a coalition with the Greens, whose 47 seats would give him a 21-seat majority. "Here's a guy who got elected as representing 'the new center,' but both his Green coalition partners and the left wing of his own Social Democratic Party aren't enthusiastic about his economic plans," says TIME correspondent James Graff. "It's not surprising that he's being cagey about policy specifics."

Despite these difficulties, Germany's move to the left in Sunday's poll was significant. While the parties of the extreme right failed to make it into parliament, the old East German communists -- reconstructed as the Party of Democratic Socialism -- made a surprisingly strong comeback, gaining a total of 35 seats. That leftward tilt gives Schroeder a firm mandate to fulfill his promise to reverse Kohl's welfare cuts. But when it comes to pushing through tax and labor reforms, Green doesn't necessarily signal "go."