Now, Germany faces a potentially crippling political deadlock. Despite receiving fewer votes than Merkel, incumbent chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insists his Social Democrats won sufficient support to form a coalition government and thus far has refused to step down.
With both top candidates lacking a clear mandate to govern, many observers believe there will be little progress in dismantling the kind of anti-business policies, such as industrywide collective bargaining, that have led multinationals like IBM and Hewlett-Packard to cut back operations in Germany and homegrown companies like Siemens to move jobs abroad.
What Germany, and German voters, must understand is that business, especially IT-related business, is now portable. CEOs will move their workforces to countries that will give them the freedom to conduct operations as they see fit. Some may view that as a backward step for labor, but it's a fact of our globalized, 21st-century world.
Faced with political stagnation, Germany will continue to stumble along with one of the highest unemployment rates in the industrialized world. That doesn't sound too worker friendly, does it?