Germany took to the polls on September 24th, in a popular vote on the future set-up of the Federal Parliament, the country’s Federal Government, and its new leadership team.
Those hoping for more of the same under Merkel – hope no more
- The conservative sister parties CDU/CSU remain the strongest political force despite major losses.
- The social democrats (SPD) have to face their historically worst election result.
- After four years of absence, the liberals from the FDP achieved a strong come-back into the Bundestag.
- The far left was able to increase their votes but they are no longer the strongest opposition party.
- Despite unfavorable pre-election polls, the Greens (Grüne) managed to slightly increase their votes.
- For the first time, the far right populists from the AfD are entering the federal parliament as the third largest party. However, in a surprise coup, the party leader of the AfD, Frauke Petry, who won her constituency directly, announced she will not be part of the AfD faction. It seems likely she will try to build a new faction.
THE OUTLOOK – Bigger, Bolder, Louder
- For the first time, 7 parties will enter the new Bundestag. With 709 MPs the new Bundestag will be the biggest in post-war Germany. A significant number of CDU/CSU and SPD MPs have lost their mandate. New faces from all parties will take their seat in the Bundestag.
- The tone in the new federal parliament is going to be rougher with the AfD announcing they want to chase the new government. The SPD has also signaled they want to be a strong opposition party who will bring back a true debating culture into theBundestag.
THE NEW POWER OPTION – Jamaica heralds change
- Numerically, the only other coalition option is the “Jamaica-coalition” between both conservative parties, the liberals and greens. The Social Democrats have announced that they are not willing to enter coalitiontalks.
- “Jamaica” will be complex: All parties have diverging ideologies and positions, which makes coalition talks more difficult. All partners will be forced to talk about their issues in a new and different manner in order to make compromises possible.
- The CSU, the Bavarian sister party of the CDU is under pressure due to the losses in Bavaria. In light of regional elections in Bavaria in 2018, they will be reluctant to make large concessions to the liberals and greens.
- The greens will enter coalition talks with serious determination. However, its party base will have to approve the final coalition agreement. This means, their leadership will need clear “green government projects” to convince their left party wing.
- The liberal FDP was very confident throughout the election campaign and will definitely enter coalition talks. However, prominent party members have stressed that there is no automatism that the FDP will form a Jamaica coalition.
THE WAY AHEAD – a Bumpy Road?
- Right after the election of the Bundestag on September 24, exploratory talks between the parties started to find out which coalition can be formed. Angela Merkel is yet to officially invite the parties to discussoptions.
- According to the Constitution, the first session of the Bundestag must take place at the latest 30 days after election day. The period of office of the old government ends with the constituent session, though theoldministersandthechancellorkeeptheirpositionsuntilthenewcabinetisofficiallyconfirmed.
- With regional election in Lower Saxony on October 15, 2017 the uptake of coalition negotiations is likely to drag on until after theelections.