German coalition talks: What do they show about Germany’s future?

With Germany’s federal elections finally in the books, the country’s parties are now tasked with calculating who will replace Angela Merkel as chancellor. For the first time in decades, three parties will be needed to form a governing coalition.

The calculus that requires three parties to form a coalition gives uncommon strength to two smaller parties: The Greens (14.8%) and the Free Democrats (FDP, 11.5%). These two parties – which are both socially liberal but divided on economics – will be hammering out policy differences and finding commonalities. Meanwhile, Olaf Scholz and his center-left Social Democrats (SPD), which edged Ms. Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) by 1 1/2 points, will be waiting for their phone call.

Why We Wrote This

Germany’s first post-Merkel election promises to reshape the country’s governing priorities. They can begin to be seen as the parties thrash out a new, likely three-party coalition.

Pundits predict that the most likely government will be a “traffic light” coalition – red for SPD, yellow for FDP, and green for, appropriately, The Greens. nevertheless, the consequence is not a clear repudiation of the CDU’s mainstream policies.

“A traffic light coalition would definitely be a move to the center-left, but it will be capped by the free-market-oriented FDP,” says Aaron Allen with the Center for European Policy examination. “Olaf Scholz is an experienced, competent politician, and I don’t think he’ll rock the boat that much.”

Berlin

With Germany’s federal elections finally in the books, the country’s parties are now tasked with calculating who will replace Angela Merkel as chancellor. In a break from Ms. Merkel’s 16 years at the helm of the European Union’s most powerful country, her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came in second to the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). Ms. Merkel will stay in strength until coalition negotiations are concluded – but for the first time in decades, three parties will be needed to form a governing coalition.

Why is needing three parties a big deal?

The calculus that requires three parties to form a coalition gives uncommon strength to two smaller parties: The Greens (14.8%) and the Free Democrats (FDP, 11.5%). These two parties – which are both socially liberal but divided on economics – will be hammering out policy differences and finding commonalities. Meanwhile, Olaf Scholz and his SPD, which edged Ms. Merkel’s CDU by 1 1/2 points, will be waiting for their phone call.

Why We Wrote This

Germany’s first post-Merkel election promises to reshape the country’s governing priorities. They can begin to be seen as the parties thrash out a new, likely three-party coalition.

Pundits predict that the most likely government will be a “traffic light” coalition – red for SPD, yellow for FDP, and green for, appropriately, The Greens. That said, the CDU will also be meeting with the FDP; it’s doubtful, but possible that the CDU could nevertheless negotiate its way into a “Jamaica” ruling coalition (green, yellow, and black; the CDU’s color is black) should The Greens and the FDP choose to rule with it instead.

Germany’s Green party leaders Annalena Baerbock (center) and Robert Habeck (left) fleeting the media together with the chairman of the Free Democrats, Christian Lindner (right), after exploratory talks between the two parties about options for a new German government in Berlin, Oct. 1, 2021.

Having three ruling parties could average policymaking stasis; more voices method potentially more squabbling. in addition a multiparty coalition signals a new era in German politics, whereby the political scenery has fragmented, and more small parties will be consistently vying for votes.

What does the vote say about how Germany has changed?

At the very least, the CDU’s loss was a clear repudiation of its candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet. Mr. Laschet is famously gaffe-inclined, and the party accustomed to ruling Germany with Ms. Merkel at the helm has reached a moment of reckoning after experiencing a 9-point drop from the 2017 federal election.

That said, the consequence is not a clear repudiation of the CDU’s mainstream policies. The SPD’s Mr. Scholz is business-friendly and generally hews to the right of his party’s center-left platform.

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