What will Germany look like after the next election?

Angela Merkel being sworn in as Federal Chancellor. Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

Last Thursday this newspaper came out with a lead story about European countries having problems producing viable governments. The article was entitled “Minority governments ‘à la mode’ in Europe but can they last long?” It seems conformist Germany answers this question in the negative. According to an opinion poll published this week and reported by BBC, 54% of the Germans want the ‘grand coalition’ to go ahead, while one in three believe it won’t stick. But is it possible for the Christian parties and the socialists to govern Germany together again? Let’s dig into it.

This is an effort to soundly secure the next federal government on a strong parliamentary majority, shaped by the country’s two major political groupings; the allied center-right Christian parties CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union and her Bavarian sister Christian Social Union) and the center-left socialists of SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany). The two groupings control between them 399 seats in the federal parliament, the Bundestag (246 the Christian parties and 153 the Socialists), in a house of 709 deputies. It’s a very comfortable majority.

However, the difficult political challenges will be fought outside the parliament, in the next days or probably weeks at the negotiations table to agree the terms of the ‘grand coalition’. It’s not the first time that the Christians and the Socialists are forming such a government. During the three parliamentary periods of the past twelve years, CDU/CSU and SPD co-governed for eight years, in two periods 2005-2009 and 2013-2017. On both occasions the agreement ‘book’ contained tens of chapters and hundreds of pages covering all major and less important issues.

Merkel again?

To be noted, all along the past twelve years Angela Merkel confidently held the government controls from her position in the Federal Chancellery. Now, it’s not like that it seems. There are strong voices claiming Merkel has to go, probably in the middle of the current four year parliamentary period. Her image has been marred, after the Christian parties lost one million voters in the 24 September elections. She also failed in her first attempt to form a coalition government. This failure cost her dearly.

A costly breakdown

Before the end of last year, it proved impossible for Merkel to convince both the environment minded leadership of the Green Party and the pro-business neoliberal Free Democrats of FDP, to form a tripartite administration. Christian Lindner, the leader of the last party, a young looking middle aged narcissist, broke out of the talks, destroying Merkel’s option to form the ‘Jamaica’ coalition, named after the colors of the three political parties involved (black, green and yellow).

Now it’s Merkel’s last chance to form a majority government, this time in ‘grand coalition’ with the socialists. However, this looks not only difficult, but rather politically damaging for both sides. Still, both the Christian parties and the socialists appear to prefer it, than calling a new legislative election or letting Merkel form a minority government, supported only by the two Christians. This week CDU/CSU and the SPD are to decide the agenda of the negotiations and possibly strike a general agreement, regarding the hot issues of immigration, taxation, the reform of the European Union and changes in social insurance coverage, with healthcare prominent in this facet.

An impossible agreement?

In all and every one of those policy questions, their differences are huge. The conservatives want less taxation for the wealthy, no reunification of the immigrant families, not a more powerful European Union and vie for greater involvement of the private sector in healthcare. In theory the socialists opt exactly for the opposite alternatives. There is, though, a neoliberal infection of the SPD leadership, routed in the 2005 split of SPD.

Back then, a number of left wing members of the party led by Oskar Lafontaine left SPD, denouncing the changes of labor protection laws, as proposed by the leadership of Gerhard Schröder. Since then the Socialists not only have governed with Merkel’s conservatives for eight years as a junior partner, but have promoted deep labor market changes, favoring flexibility and slashing traditional labor protection rules.

Neoliberal socialists

This said, Martin Schulz the incumbent leader of SPD, will have no problem discussing issues like less taxation of the wealthy and more private sector implication in healthcare with Merkel . Already – according to the Handelsblatt Global on line news service – the SPD has agreed with the CDU/CSU “to abandon the Germany’s climate target for 2020, arguing that it’s virtually impossible to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels”.

Yet, as in 2005 a good part of prominent SPD members are lining up against the new partnership with the conservatives. They have formed a faction under the name of NoGroKo (no grand coalition). Their main argument is that the party will lose a lot from a new ‘grand coalition’ with the conservatives, and it may even end up as a minor political force after the next election. Obviously, the reason for that is the abandonment of SPD’s social references and audience. This has been a heated discussion within socialist parties and has led to strong conflicts, schisms and political shrinkage in many European countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, France and elsewhere.

Fading socialists

In this process the critical turning point was not only the cooperation of the center-left with the center-right parties, which proved politically more detrimental for the former; the political developments in Europe for the last twenty years have witnessed the endorsement by the left leaning parties of the neoliberal policies. At the same time, anti-labor laws, pro-financial markets measures and income inequality increasing policies have opened the way to harlequin and extreme right wing populists. The extreme right is already in a government coalition in Austria. Isn’t this an alarming sign for Germany?

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief urges top digital tech panel to come up with ‘bold, innovative ideas’ for an ‘inclusive’ future

We can end TB right now. Here’s how

Multilateralism more vital than ever, as World War centenary looms: Security Council

Syria: Why did the US-Russia brokered ceasefire collapse? What does the duo care for?

New EU rules to boost crowdfunding platforms and protect investors

Brexit talks: Today the world to hear of a predictable failure

European Union: Retail sales show deep recession

Banks promise easing of credit conditions in support of the real economy

Companies have a new skill to master – innovation

70 years on, landmark UN human rights document as important as ever

COP21 Breaking News: China has promised to cut emissions from its coal power plants by 60% by 2020

Backed by UN, Asia-Pacific countries to advance space technology for ‘development transformation’

Data exchanges: Strengthening Europol cooperation with non-EU countries

JADE Generations Club 2015: Knowledge vs. competences – Do not wait for the change to happen, but make it happen

Crucial medical supplies airlifted to north-east Syria to meet ‘desperate need’

UN migration agency: young Rohingya girls, largest group of trafficking victims in camps

EU Emissions Trading System does not hurt firms’ profitability

Australia’s record heatwave: From fainting tennis players to dead fish

It’s time to stop talking about ethics in AI and start doing it

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

New roadmap toward healthier and cleaner oceans adopted by UN Environment and European Commission

GSMA Mobile 360 Series –Digital Societies, in association with The European Sting

Internet milestone reached, as more than 50 per cent go online: UN telecoms agency

National parks transformed conservation. Now we need to do the same for the ocean

Costa Coffee products (Copyright: Costa Coffee; Source: Costa Coffee website, Press area)

The start of the “Caffeine rush”: Coca-Cola acquires Costa Coffee days after Nestlé-Starbucks deal

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

Nigeria: Armed conflict continues to uproot thousands, driving up humanitarian need

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is the moment for climate justice”, Swedish MEP Linnéa Engström claims from Brussels

The Americans are preparing for the next financial crisis

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

The EU Commission by serving the banks offers poor support to European mainstream political parties

The Italian crisis may act as a catalyst for less austerity

Brexit: MEPs concerned over reported UK registration plans for EU27 citizens

Despite violence, ‘tremendous hunger’ for peace in Afghanistan: top UN official

Online platforms required by law to be more transparent with EU businesses

EU Budget 2019: no deal before the end of the conciliation period

Child victims of DRC Ebola outbreak need ‘special attention and care’: UNICEF

Central Africa: Security Council concerned by ‘grave security situation’, calls for better agency cooperation

Food choices today, impact health of both ‘people and planet’ tomorrow

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

These are 2018’s stats of the year

Poverty data never tells the whole story

8000 young people in the EP in Strasbourg: “a breath of fresh air for EU democracy”

The issue of health literacy and how it affects European health policies

The Ecofin Council creates officially the clan of ‘undead’ banks

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Imported and EU fisheries products should be treated equally

Europe bewildered by radicalisation and terrorism

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

New rules on drivers’ working conditions and fair competition in road transport

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

Measuring consumer confidence isn’t useful anymore. Here’s what we should do instead

We can’t rid Asia of natural disasters. But we can prepare for them

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

Generation Z will outnumber Millennials by 2019

Making technology work for 1.3 billion Indians

Fighting cybercrime – what happens to the law when the law cannot be enforced?

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s