Why the Germans voted to…

Why the Germans voted to wave goodbye to America

By returning Mr Schröder’s SDP and his Green coalition allies to power, the Germans have issued a kind of declaration of independence. They have said they will not act as American vassals, and have given expression to a deep vein of anti-Americanism

The post-war Germans were encouraged to believe that America was an ideal society, founded on a new and democratic continent, freed from the corruptions of Europe. This idealised picture suffered terrible damage during Vietnam, a conflict that had a formative influence on the rebellious generation of 1968, who went on to found the Green party.

Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, became the greatest parliamentarian of that generation and now leads the party, and it was thanks to the surprisingly strong showing of the Greens on Sunday that Mr Schröder is now in a position to form a government, albeit one with a tiny majority, in which the Greens will be stronger than before.