The elections in Germany have brought many answers to the current political situation, not only in Germany but also in Europe. Together with the French elections, there are the most influential in the nearest future of the continent. Beyond doubt, politicians who rule in Berlin and Paris also design the policy of Brussels. After Trump and Brexit, many political commentators expected that German elections would bring the politics back to the right track, towards a system without a (significant) presence of populist and right-wing parties.
Angela Merkel is widely recognised as a skilled leader, in power since 2004, a period that every politician across the world would dream. And she won the elections this year as well. On the paper, the results seem positive for her – she will very likely remain the Chancellor – but not for her party. The CDU lost 8.6 % of popular vote – definitely nobody would call it a victory, even if the party remains (still) the biggest movement in the parliament. The CDU lost also 65 sites in the parliament, despite the fact that the number of MPs in Bundestag will increase from 631 to 709 after the election 2017. The brother-party CSU made the worse result in Bayern since 1949 – 38,8 %.
As a result, Angela Merkel needs other parties to form a coalition in order to govern. After one two months of negotiations, the final agreement is far from reality (even if we are sure it will happen). I still bear in mind a quite similar situation after the last British Elections where Theresa May was forced to create a coalition with Democratic Unionist Party. And she did it a very smooth way. In that case, media and British Socialists called the election a catastrophe for the Conservative party. But in Germany, we could hear a flourish of trumpets. Certainly, Germany and the UK have two different elections systems, in the first the winning party forms coalition but anyway we should keep a reasonable proportion.
To conclude, Angela Markel won the elections but her party lost it. What makes me more concerned is that there is nobody inside the party who could actually replace Frau Merkel. Without her, the party would have received similar results to SPD. Perhaps not a red light, but the election is certainly a dark yellow light for the party. The CDU has four years to find a new leader, to design a programme (which in fact, does not exist for the time being) and to create capacity for the next elections. Otherwise, they will suffer even more painful lost in 2021.
The second vanquished of the election is SPD. The party cannot secure a win since 2005. It is a long time in politics. Twice in a big coalition, the SPD was, however, a part of the government but this presence did not bear fruits. The number of party members is constantly decreasing since 1972. Martin Schulz was not the one who could grant votes – despite his laud move from the European Parliament to German politics; the SPD gained the same – around 20 % but this time it is the worse result since 1949, the first democratic elections after the Second World War. Personally, I call the SPD, a party of 20 %, not enough to form a government but also beyond a risk of disappearing. The party was deprived of a programme – I have an impression that the traditional social-oriented agenda provided by SPD has been exhausted. Moreover, the lack of clear leadership also challenges the party – not Schulz, let alone Gabriel can be a Chancellor, even if they dream about it very hard. Despite heavy loses, the party is at a crossroads with two options to move to the opposition or to form a new (old) government with the CDU/CSU. Monitoring (and criticising) the (weak) Merkel’s government seems to be a better option to remain characteristic at the political stage. The SPD has also four years to find a new leader, a hero from the street, outside of the political, well-connected establishment, someone with the charisma of Jean Luc Mélenchon who can move the masses (SPD is a social-democratic party). Otherwise they party will repeat results of French socialists (7.44%) in 2017.
The FDP and Die Grünen have a bright future on the political scene in Germany. For the FDP, the 10.7% means first and foremost that the party returned to Bundestag. It might also be a signal that (some) Germans feel tired with the centre-socialistic approach of the last government and they expect more marked-oriented programmes. The party will be a good, reliable and proven partner for the CDU/CSU in the coalition if it happens.
More question marks bring another potential partner of the so-called Jamaica coalition – Die Grünen. The party grounded in 1980 on the anti-establish orientation with his prominent and characteristic Joshka Fisher is a modern left-wing party. The result achieved in the last election is a bit disappointing. Die Grünen has had the ambition to dethrone the SPD one day heading more than 20 % in 2011. But this day has not came yet, at least not today. Now, the result is worse than AfD. The party supports the Atom-end programme, green energies and environment and climate policy – a necessary agenda but also very costly – its revolutionary, immediate implementation might be even too high for Germany, the economic world power. To put it simply, its agenda is very contradictory to the programme of the FDP. How these both parties go along in the possible Jamaica coalition is a big question mark. I can even imagine that the mutually exclusive approach will cause a break of coalition agreement. Anyhow, the Jamaica coalition (if formed) will have a hard nut to crack and to keep consistency of the government programme.
And that brings us to the last party and the dark horse of the last election – AfD. It is a party in existence since 2013 with an anti-establishment view but on the right site of the scene. Medias in Germany tried to connect its success with the refugees’ crisis which brought Germany to the centre of attention. Well, I would rather take issue with this assertion. Many citizens in Germany are just disappointed with the centre or sometimes left approach of the CDU – Christian Democratic Party. The AfD is a new conservative, right-wing party that received most of the votes from former CDU voters. But Alternative für Deutschland is not NPD that for sure. I believe its good result will force the CDU to make necessary changes in its programme, approach and politics.
The AfD performed well during the campaign (all other parties were campaigning against it) but I do not see its presence in the Bundestag will be a success. Building a party in Germany, where the system is already crystallised since 1949 is a herculean task. Die Grünen managed it in the 1980s but the future of the AfD depends on how they will keep consolidated agenda and not disappoint its voters one day. The party is not consistent and building its agenda as an opposition to the political establishment might help to win elections but remain on the stage is another, much more difficult task.
The last elections in Germany did not revolutionise the political system in the biggest country of the European Union. Many people feel forgotten and abandoned by the parties. The voice of Germans is very often not heard in Bundestag, they feel having no choices. Politicians are making politics for themselves, for media but not for people any more. They speak about people rights and obligations to participate in public life (which means go to elections) but they do not offer much in exchange (a programme). If the trend continues, loses of CDU/SPD will be higher than in 2017. Germans are tired, fed up with being politically correct.