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Chancellor Merkel Long Overstayed Her Welcome But What About a Replacement?

Germany's next election is tomorrow. It's too close to call but the  ramifications are big. I go over the coalition possibilities.
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Germany Election Polls 2021-09-25

Merkel should have resigned in late 2020 and triggered elections in mid to late 2020.

Instead, support for CDU/CSU (the Union) has collapsed. The elections may be uncertain, but it's highly likely that CDU/CSU will be at best a junior partner in any alliance.

The Greens

The Green party held a brief lead in April but support for them has since collapsed. 

German Election Poll Details 

German Rlection Poll details 2021-09-25

Polls courtesy of Wikipedia.

Coalition Possibilities

Many coalition possibilities exist, but more so in theory than practice. 

For example, nearly every party has stated they will not for a coalition with AfD, Germany's right wing party. Some rule out a coalition with Linke, Germany's extreme Left socialist party. 

Deciphering the Color Code

Deciphering the Color Code

Please consider Deciphering the Color Code

  1. The center-right Christian Democrat CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU are symbolized by the color black. The center-left Social Democrat SPD is red, as is the socialist Left Party. The neoliberal Free Democrats' (FDP) color is yellow. And the Greens are self-explanatory. German media often refer to color combinations and national flags, using them as shorthand for political coalitions.
  2. Black, Red, Green - the Kenya coalition - A coalition of center-right Christian Democrats (black) and center-left Social Democrats (red) plus the Green Party would secure a comfortable majority. 
  3. Black, Yellow and Green - the Jamaica coalition - The center-right Christian Democrats have often teamed up with the much smaller pro-free market Free Democrats (FDP) at the state and the national level over the years. Taking in the Greens to form a three-way coalition would be an option attractive to many in the CDU. But the Greens and the FDP do not make easy bedfellows, and a similar attempt failed after the last election in 2017.
  4. Black, Red, Yellow - the Germany coalition - The center-right CDU and the center-left SPD plus the business-focused FDP. This combination would easily clear the 50% threshold in parliament, and would be the preferred option for business leaders and high-income earners. But if the SPD takes the lead we'd see red, black, yellow - a less conservative option.
  5. Red, Red, Green - The Social Democrats teaming up with the Greens and the Left Party is a specter the conservatives like to raise whenever they perform badly in the polls. But the SPD and Left Party have a difficult history. And the Left's extreme foreign policy positions would likely hamper negotiations.
  6. Red, Yellow, Green - a 'traffic light' coalition - The free-market-oriented liberal FDP has in the past generally ruled out federal coalitions sandwiched between the Social Democrats and the Greens. But this year, the FDP has not ruled out any options. Germany's traditional kingmaker party may above all be keen to return to power - no matter in which color combination.
  7. Black and red, red and black - the 'grand coalition' - A "grand coalition" of CDU and SPD, the "big tent parties," has been in power for the past eight years with the conservatives taking the lead. If the election results allow it, this combination may continue in government ... with the stronger party naming the chancellor.

Note that none of the listed options include AfD even though politically speaking its policies would make for better alliances. 

However, AfD is Eurosceptic and many consider it to be tied to Nazis. 

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Weighing the Possibilities

It does not appear CDU/CSU will provide the next chancellor. 

Many of the possibilities are messy. A Grand Coalition (#7) might not be mathematically feasible as 22.5 + 25.5 = 48. 

It's not quite that simple because parties have to get 5% to count and those that don't count get proportioned.  

Even if it's possible, I doubt if SPD wants another Grand Coalition.

The Traffic Light Coalition (#6) just adds to the mess. 

Notice how close FDP, AfD, and the Greens are in the polls. If FDP is ahead of AfD and the Greens in the vote, it might wish to opt out of any coalition to become the Opposition Party. 

The opposition party get many political favors so FDP might wish to sit out any coalition. But that could change if AfD or the Greens would become the opposition party.

In that case, FDP might wish to hold its nose and be a part of some coalition.

The Greens were on the cusp of a huge victory. But a slip of just a couple more percentage points could lock them out of everything.

This is not easy to predict especially when the shift of even one percentage point in a 6-way race matters greatly.

Whether or not the Greens have a major influence is a big deal politically and economically.

Tomorrow the Election!

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