GERMAN ELECTION 2017

Germany is the leader of both “Europe’s largest economy and stabilizing force” which went to the national elections on 24th September 2017[1]. Considering the developments occurring in the world, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the USA, hopes on Europe is high since people are expecting EU reforms with the leadership of Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron (Ibid).

According to the recent elections, Angela Merkel has re-elected for her fourth term chancellor in Bundestag (federal parliament of Germany)[2]. This success may be attributed to the shifting policies of CDU[3] to the left and thereby attracted new voters[4]. However; the results clearly show us that due to the recent political decisions/actions (2015 migrant crisis), the former coalition between Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats has obtained their worst results since post WWII period (Ibid). Plus, for the first time, since post WWII, a far right wing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), entered parliament “as the third-strongest party”(Ibid). Some authorities have already started to talk about the post-Merkel era for CDU in which “Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Jens Spahn, the party’s parliamentary state secretary and Thomas Strobl, who heads the party’s state chapter in Baden-Württemberg” are spoken about for the post Merkel era[5].

THE GERMAN ELECTION SYSTEM[6]

61.5 million German voters use their first vote (erststimme) to “elect 299 constituency representatives” which consists of almost the half of the seats. According to the second vote (Zweitstimme), votes are allocated among the parties which obtained 5% or over it. So in the second vote, voters “choose a party”. Recently, Bundestag has 631 representatives however it can have more since “a party can win more constituency seats than its overall entitlement” with the added balance seats. Coalition talks can also last for a month after the elections.

Merkel’s CDU obtain votes mainly from “older, rural, conservative and Christian voters” as the main centre-right party which supports tax cuts and full employment. The Social Democratic Party(SPD), on the other hand, obtain votes from industrial western parts of Germany which is currently led by the former European parliament president, Martin Schulz and supports wealth distribution and social justice but opposes a defense spending for NATO. Compared to other parties, Free Democrats(FDP) supports for free-enterprise, greater integration with the EU, favoring tax cuts.  The Greens however obtain votes from Germany’s university cities in its western part. Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is based on “preserving German culture, nationalism, Euro skepticism, anti-immigration, and anti-Islam”.

WHAT NOW?

Merkel’s blamed for her decision over not closing the borders in 2015 and thereby paving the way for AfD while Schulz could not be a challenger/alternative to Merkel since it was ambiguous ”in what ways he was truly critical of Merkel”.[7] According to the current results; the centre right CDU/CSU’s 33% of the vote in federal elections, made it the largest party in the Bundestag[8]. Compared to its 41% in 2013, it is a disappointment for Merkel’s party. Martin Schulz’s Social Democrat SPD, on the other hand, obtained 20% and as Schulz claimed they will be in the opposition and not ”renew” the coalition with CDU(Ibid). Hence, the only ”appropriate” coalition for Merkel would be between the CDU/CSU, the ”pro-business” FDP party with its 10% vote, and the Greens with 9% vote considering the 13.5% vote for Alternative for Germany(AfD)(Ibid). Mostly, people are anxious about the increasing votes of AfD; however, in deep down, the traces of the Berlin Wall is still predominant. For East Germans, life is better due to the existence of freedom and increased living standards[9]. Yet, for them, their “identity” tried to be lost with their changing lives that were once predominant in the Communist state(eating patterns, education, decoration of houses, programs they are watching) and therefore “westerners took over everything” (Ibid).As it may be true to a certain point, ”regions covering the former East Germany have higher unemployment (7.1%) than western ones (5.1%)”(Ibid).

Looking at the current results, Black-Yellow-Green (known as “Jamaica” due to the collection of colors of such parties resembles to Jamaican flag) coalition of the CDU, FDP and Greens (356 seats) is the most possible coalition option for Merkel. This coalition would be an alliance of four different parties in which there are the law-and-order Bavarian CSU, 1968’s social revolution party, the Greens, “the market liberals”,the FDP and Merkel’s CDU[10]. Plus it has never been tried in the national parliament before but it seems difficult either considering contradicting claims of FDP and Greens over environment and FDP’s dissatisfaction with Merkel’s support for Eurozone changes claimed by president of France, Macron[11]. Recently, CSU and CDU reached to a consensus over migration issue which paved the way for Merkel to start for coalition negotiations with other parties[12]. Hence, strict negotiations and political bargaining are awaiting for Merkel.

Gülşen DOĞAN

Kaynaklar

[1] “Germany’s general election: all you need to know”, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/24/germanys-general-election-all-you-need-to-know (last visited on 9th October 2017)

[2] “German elections 2017: full results”, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/sep/24/german-elections-2017-latest-results-live-merkel-bundestag-afd(last visited on 9th October 2017).

[3] CDU/CSU are the two parties of Christian democratic political alliance in Germany which are currently led by Merkel.

[4] “How the AfD Steamrolled the CDU and SPD”, at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-election-2017-our-full-english-analysis-of-the-election-results-a-1169730.html (last visited on 9th October 2017).

[5] “How the AfD Steamrolled the CDU and SPD”, at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-election-2017-our-full-english-analysis-of-the-election-results-a-1169730.html (last visited on 9th October 2017).

[6] “Germany’s general election: all you need to know”, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/24/germanys-general-election-all-you-need-to-know (last visited on 9th September 2017)

[7] Merkel’s ChallengeCan Germany Make an Unwieldy Coalition Work?, at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/angela-merkel-can-germany-make-an-unwieldy-coalition-work-a-1170650.html (last visited on 14 October 2017).

[8] “German elections 2017: Angela Merkel wins fourth term but AfD makes gains – as it happened”, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/sep/24/german-elections-2017-angela-merkel-cdu-spd-afd-live-updates (last visited on 9th October 2017).

[9] Nougayrede,Natalie. As Germany and Spain prove,history-with all its wounds-is not over. 7 October 2017, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/07/germany-spain-catalonia-protest-history-20th-century-traumas (last visited on 13th October 2017).

[10] Merkel’s Challenge Can Germany Make an Unwieldy Coalition Work?, at http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/angela-merkel-can-germany-make-an-unwieldy-coalition-work-a-1170650.html (last visited on 14 October 2017).

[11] “German elections 2017: Angela Merkel wins fourth term but AfD makes gains – as it happened”, at https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/sep/24/german-elections-2017-angela-merkel-cdu-spd-afd-live-updates (last visited on 9th October 2017).

[12] Merkel ‘agrees on migrant deal’ in German coalition talks, at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41543596?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.com/news/topics/2e3befc0-e70a-41c7-b6cb-2f8f0d69a7db/germany&link_location=live-reporting-story (last visited on 14 October 2017).

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