On election day, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) threw a spanner in the works. They announced that they did not want to resume their “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and that they would instead go into the opposition. What happens now?
The CDU don’t have enough seats to govern alone, and even with the help of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) they won’t have a majority. Commentators are discussing the possibility of a “Jamaica” coalition (so-called because of the yellow, black, and green colours of the Jamaican flag) between Merkel’s CDU, the FDP, and the Greens. However, this option will likely prove unpopular with voters (particularly for the two smaller parties), though nobody has ruled it out yet.
Angela Merkel has won the most votes, but her position has clearly weakened. Her party has lost votes, and this has been Merkel’s worst election result so far. Many former CDU supporters had apparently instead given their vote to the FDP or the anti-immigration AfD. Even if Merkel can cobble together a coalition, will she be able to govern effectively?
The third most powerful force in German politics is now the AfD. The tone of German politics is likely to change, potentially becoming more aggressive and radical, and less pragmatic. The lesson from recent coalitions is that going into government with Angela Merkel is a good way to lose voters. Given that the FDP have only just re-entered the Bundstag after spending some time in the wilderness, they are likely to be particularly prickly partners in any coalition talks. Nobody wants to see new elections, but the political situation is clearly much messier.
Have the German election results made the country ungovernable? Is a “Jamaica” coalition of greens, liberals, and Christian democrats the only way forward? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!