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Future of the Grand Coalition

Via Eurointelligence

The Bavarian election story is a different one than commentators expected. The debate the day after is not about the future of Markus Soder and Horst Seehofer. They are both secure for now. It is about the future of the federal grand coalition, and of the SPD specifically. It is also about the spectacular success of the Greens. Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s day-two front page headline is about Munich turning into a Green metropolis.

The absolute number of CSU voters has only fallen marginally compared to 2014, but their vote share dropped because of the higher participation. The SPD’s support on the other hand collapsed beyond redemption, both in relative and absolute terms. This will have important implications for the grand coalition.

The next date to watch out is the October 28 election in the state of Hesse, where a relatively popular SPD candidate hopes to unseat the CDU incumbent prime minister, Volker Bouffier. It should be a better result than in Bavaria - but it is the gap between expectations and reality that will matter in Hesse as well. And don’t underestimate the uplift the Greens received from the Bavarian election. They are now the cool party of the left.

We note that the decision to form yet another grand coalition has dramatically accelerated the party’s secular decline. Unless the Greens self-destruct, the CDU/CSU moves to the right, or the SPD itself turns to the left and manages to usurp the Left Party, we see no solution to this.

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Demographics

Demographics favors the Greens in the medium term, and the Left in the long run. According to a socio-demographic analysis of Germany’s political parties, the share of SPD members who are over 60 years is 54%. The equivalent percentage for the Greens is 24%. The percentage of under-30 year olds are a mere 8% for the SPD.

Unless the SPD manages to find a new political niche - which it can do only in opposition - its share of the vote will continue to decline. The longer the current grand coalition hangs on, the faster the rate of decline.

Source of Instability

Much of the political uncertainty in Europe is perceived to be the result of Brexit and Italian politics. Germany could become a source of political instability faster than many people realize.

Once again, thank Merkel. The splintering of Germany is on her watch, by her hands.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock