Like the US red-blue split, Germany’s Iron Curtain sways the ...

World

Like the US red-blue split, Germany’s Iron Curtain sways the polls

Political lines in Germany are drawn along geographical borders that bear the legacy of the country’s old divisions

Andreas Kluth

At first blush, Germany’s parliamentary election was a victory for moderates, and a clear defeat for extremists. The populist fringes — the Alternative for Germany (AfD) on the far right and the post-communist Left on the opposite side — both lost seats. The vast majority of votes went to one of the four centrist party blocs, although there were large swings between those. 

With that verdict, the electorate in effect nixed the only coalition option that would have been radical, an all-left tie-up of the Social Democrats, the environmentalist Greens and The Left. The next government will instead be formed by some combination of the centre-right and centre-left, probably weighted toward the latter.

But if you drill down into the results by region, a different picture emerges. It shows a Germany that is bitterly divided. In the US, the red/blue fault lines run between rural and urban areas, and between regions such as, say, the Deep South and New England. In Germany, they also separate metropolises from the countryside. But above all — 31 years after reunification — they still delineate the former West and East Germany...

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