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Germany Is Headed for a Post-Election Crisis

Sept. 25, 2017 (EIRNS)—Germany is headed for a post-election political crisis as the results of the Sept. 24 national elections take hold of the political class. Bild Zeitung called the results "a nightmare victory for Merkel." Indeed it is.

The election results were a disaster for the CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian partner Christian Social Union) and for the Social Democratic Party (SPD), both of which had the worst results since 1949. The former received 33%, down 8%, and the latter received 20.5%, a 5% decrease from 2013, the worst result in the history of the SPD going back to the times of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The turnout was 77%, a 5.5% increase from 2013.

The right-wing Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) received 12.5% and now is the third-largest party. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) returned to Parliament with 10.7%, the Linke with 9.2% and the Greens, 8.9%. According to the German election rules, there will be 709 members of the Bundestag (the lower house of the Federal Parliament), an increase of 78 from the previous Bundestag. The breakdown is as follows:

  • CDU/CSU 246 (down from 311)
  • SPD 153 (down from 193)
  • AfD 94 (up from 0)
  • FDP 80 (up from 0)
  • Linke 69 (up from 64)
  • Greens 67 (up from of 63)

Given the arithmetic of coalition building, unless the FDP and Green Party simply jump into bed with the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union with no questions asked, Germany is heading into a post-election political crisis. The FDP is expected to demand changes in Merkel’s energy and Eurozone fiscal policy. FDP leader Christian Lindner has called for improving relations with Russia.

Der Spiegel’s Dirk Kurbjuweit wrote that Angela Merkel deserved this defeat, and accused her of running an uninspired campaign and largely ignoring the challenges posed by the right. Since the SPD has announced it will go into opposition and not renew the grand coalition with Merkel, Angela Merkel has only two options, going by the numbers. Either she forms a coalition with the AfD, which is very unlikely, or she forms a so-called Jamaica Coalition (because the combined party colors are gold, green, black, like the Jamaican flag) with the FDP and Greens. Such a government would be a four-party coalition—CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens, something that has never happened and could be short-lived. Some people are not ruling out the possibility of snap elections.

Therefore, it is said that the FDP might not want to be in the government, and even the CSU (the CDU partner, which is based in Bavaria) is nervous, because it lost a full 10% from the 2013 elections and is now facing Bavarian State elections next year.

In her pyrrhic victory speech, Merkel had to admit that the result was not as good as expected, and the leader of her coalition partner, CSU chief Horst Seehofer, called the outcome a bitter disappointment. The hapless SPD leader, Martin Schulz, beating his breast, said the SPD would bear the consequences, and, with nothing else to offer, vowed his party would serve as the bulwark of democracy in this country to stop the AfD from leading the opposition.

The AfD’s Alexander Gauland told euphoric party members at the party’s Berlin headquarters: "This is a great day for our party political history. We are entering the Bundestag for the first time and we will change this country." He said the AfD would "haunt" Merkel over her refugee policy, by trying to organize a parliamentary committee to examine its legality. While the AfD polled, on average, 11% in Germany’s Western states, it polled more than 21% in the East, grabbing the anti-Merkel votes. It won more than a million votes from among the traditional CDU/CSU voters.

Alexander Rahr, director of the German-Russian Forum, told Sputnik that he did not rule out new parliamentary snap-elections, saying that a CDU/CSU, FDP, and Green Party coalition would not be stable, and that "it is hard to foresee how it will perform at the Federal level. I think it is simply impossible, but there is no other chance to form a capable government in Germany."

Der Spiegel went so far as to say that Merkel’s own political future is in question: "Considering the weak result, this question is likely to arise even more quickly than previously anticipated.... The evening that Angela Merkel secured her fourth term in the Chancellery could also mark the beginning of the debate over who will one day inherit the office from her."