Any way you look at it the disappointing results of the elections in Germany represent the worst case scenario:
The vote heralded the end of Schroeder's seven-year tenure but left in doubt who will follow. The inconclusive results make it likely that Germany's next government would be weakened because of the narrow vote margin and difficulties in forming a coalition.
"In my perspective, the majority of the German population is still not ready to accept a real hard reform course," said Uwe Andersen , a political scientist at Ruhr University in Bochum. "And therefore the only possibility now is a grand coalition, C.D.U. and S.P.D., but it will be a very difficult situation, because I think they will have great difficulty to get a government project that is stable and that is able to answer the questions that are coming up about the future of the country," he said.