Merkel’s potential coalition partners do not get alongby James Sloam / September 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
The German elections were expected to be a mundane affair. For months it was clear that the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) would remain the most powerful party and that Angela Merkel would remain Chancellor, matching Helmut Kohl’s historic achievement of four consecutive election victories. The result came as something of a shock. Despite their overall victory, the CDU/CSU, along with their competitor (and Grand Coalition partner) Social Democratic Party (SPD) experienced large losses compared to the last federal election in 2013.
Six parties crossed the 5 per cent threshold for parliamentary representation for the first time (up from four in 2013, and three for almost the entire period of the old West Germany, 1949-1990). Most problematic was the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which saw its support rocket in the wake of Merkel’s 2015 decision to take in a million refugees. Given the stated intention of the SPD not to re-enter government with the Christian Democrats, German politics has become a hell of a lot more complicated.
On Sunday, the vote shares for the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats fell by 8.6 points and 5.2 points respectively. Although the result has elsewhere been portrayed as a clear victory for Merkel over her challenger Martin Schulz (SPD), the CDU/CSU score of 33 per cent was its lowest ever. The SPD score of 20.5 per cent was also its worst result in post-war history. Together they gained the support of little over half of the electorate.
From their highpoint in the 1970s, when the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats shared around 90 per cent of the vote, the two parties have been in decline. The SPD suffered electorally from the emergence of the Greens as an electoral force in the 1980s, and then again from the establishment of the Left Party in 2007. The rise of the AfD in the aftermath of the financial crisis and Eurozone crisis has added a new anti-establishment threat on the right of the political spectrum.
The implosion of support for CDU/CSU and SPD is a direct result of anti-establishment sentiment. The Coalition between the two main parties, which took place just once in the first 56 years of the Federal Republic, has now become a feature of German politics. The two parties have shared power in eight of Merkel’s twelve…