I haven't followed the election very closely, but it seems that the SPD has bridged the gap based on Schroeder's popularity and not on the issues. It also seems that people didn't put a lot of trust in Merkel but liked her ideas. So the personalities may have made the difference, a very discomforting thought. I always treasured the idea that in Europe elections were not about the person but now it seems we're heading for US style politics. I'm happy though that the main parties seem to rule out a coalition with the PDS.