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The opposition's prospects don't look very well and it was very surprising that they didn't let the budget pass.

It was a result of everyone being ignorant of parliamentary rules:

  1. The government wanted to get the budget passed with the FDP's votes on the third reading, so they dissed the Left Party (who wanted a comprehensive free train ticket for the socially weak).
  2. The FDP wanted to play game, but thought they can force budget cuts by voting against some parts of the budget upon second reading.
  3. Parliamentarians were reminded however in the last hour that by NRW's rules not passing even a part of the budget upon second reading means its failure.
  4. Certain that they will win whatever the outcome, the government went ahead with a budget containing no bones for either opposition party, both of which committed themselves previously.

Hannelore Kraft, the current prime minister, was not involved in the Agenda 2010 programme

Maybe so, but she was a loud supporter even in recent times.

She was careful to be very cooperative in her coalition with the Greens, refraining from humiliating power play.

True, with the exception of pushing new coal, but there the leaders of the Greens folded quickly. What surprises me is that apparently they (the NRW Greens) weren't punished for that in opinion polls. (Either that or such a voter loss was compensated by gains from other parties.)

The Pirates could be in for the first time.

According to what I read, the Pirate competition is one of the main problems for the NRW Left Party, as protest voters turned their way. (The other is internal struggles.) I still hope for both of them making it into parliament as opposition, though.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 16th, 2012 at 04:43:54 PM EST
Modifying my calculation for the seat allocation assuming Die Linke squeezes in:

Allocating 181 seats to 37-38% SPD, 34% CDU, 13-14% Green and 5-6% Pirates 5% Linke one gets

72( +5) SPD
65( -2) CDU
23( - ) Green
11(+11) Pirates
10( -1) Left
0(-13) FDP

The only difference is that Black/Green is no longer a majority.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 16th, 2012 at 05:15:08 PM EST
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