For the past 11 days, the world has been treated to the unedifying spectacle of Gerhard Schröder claiming a mandate to continue as German chancellor. Seemingly intoxicated by his remarkable closing of the electoral gap, he first advanced the specious argument that his Social Democrats (SPD) had won a greater share of the vote on September 18 than Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). That is strictly speaking true, but it artificially separates the CDU from its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), whose combined vote exceeds that of the SPD. Mr Schröder then suggested that he should hand over the chancellorship to Mrs Merkel after a certain period. Finally, he sought to ensure that the price of his resignation would be her relinquishing any claim to the post.
In normal circumstances, the federal president, Horst Köhler, would ask Mrs Merkel to form a governing coalition. That course of action has been complicated by the fact that the election is not entirely over; due to the death during the campaign of a neo-Nazi candidate in Dresden, a postponed vote will be held there on Sunday. The outcome will not reverse the overall result but that has not stopped Mr Schröder from refusing to accept defeat until the Saxon capital has been balloted. The position of Mr Köhler, a CDU nominee, is delicate. That said, he has signally failed to caution the chancellor about the damage being done to German democracy by his arrogant assumption of victory.
What does that remind you of. Our democracy is never going to be the same after our own little damage-done-after-an-election-by-someone-who-refused-to-concede-thing.
You know, if this was medieval Europe, things would be just starting to get interesting. Burning crofts in the background as the clash of metal rings out over the razed fields, men trying to kill each other in the dark of night, blood feuds and intrigue everywhere. But no, these days we just have to sit around watching a bunch of humorless morons blow air on the television night after night.