Schröder has dissolved the Bundestag and has called early elections for September 18. Polls show a drastic fall in the SPD vote and the most likely outcome seems a victory of the right wing Christian Democrats. But on the left a new formation is emerging, the Left Alliance, made up of the PDS (former Communist Party of East Germany) and the WASG, a left split of disenchanted social democrats and trade unionists, and the former leader of the left of the SPD, Oskar Lafontaine, is preparing to be its main leader. The crisis of German capitalism is preparing the ground for greater instability and a polarization of German society.

A historic defeat for chancellor Kohl and a clear victory for the left are the most outstanding features of the German election on September 27. After exactly 16 years of Kohl in office, German workers and youth said: enough is enough. German is now likely to be governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. Hans Gerd Ofinger analyses the implications from Germany.

Things are changing fast in Germany. In September 1998, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) scored a big victory in the Bundestag elections, ousting the bourgeois coalition under Kohl which had held power for 16 years. The new "red-green" coalition government under chancellor Schröder was greeted with great hope by millions of workers, unemployed, old age pensioners and youth. Now the SPD as well as the Greens are stumbling from defeat to catastrophe to disaster.

Hans-Gerd Öfinger, from the editorial board of the German Marxist magazine Der Funke looks to the prospects for the upcoming elections in September. With Schröder's uninspiring Blairite policies, voter absention could well open the door to the Christian Democrats who were so sounded defeated four years ago.

Edmund Stoiber, a leading reactionary Christian Democratic leader was defeated in the German elections last Sunday, though by a narrow margin. There was a sigh of relief on the part of many SPD activists, trade unionists and youth up and down the country. The threat of a Stoiber victory mobilised the SPD and green vote, but against the background of a severe economic crisis, all sorts of conflicts will open up, and major disappointment and anger on the part of workers and youth will be on the order of the day.

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