The outcome from the German general election this autumn was the worst possible - for Europe as well as Germany. A victory for the centre-right's Edmund Stoiber would have heralded some modest supply-side reforms, but nothing to reverse Germany's economic decline. The re-election of centre-left Gerhard Schroder by a convincing majority might have let him tackle the deep-seated economic problems he ignored in his first four years.
But Chancellor Schroder held on to power by the skin of his teeth - and needs the support of the left-wing Greens to stay in office. This will make him even less inclined to do anything radical, lest it rock his leaky boat. It is a recipe for rigor mortis in Europe's biggest economy.
The result has dashed hopes that Germany's problems will be confronted.