As projected the winner was Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), who must now form a government with either the Social Democrats or the Greens and the Liberals.
Exit polls show a 32,5% for the CDU. Chancellor Angela Merkel won her fourth term.
Martin Schulz‘s Social Democrats (SPD) has suffered a historical defeat, which questions the post-World War II assumption that the center-left is the government in waiting. Schultz has made clear that he does not intend to participate in a new coalition government, a step that echoes a similar decision in the Netherlands by Labour Party (PvdA) leader Lodewijk Asscher.
Slipping to 20% means the SPD can hold on to its role as junior coalition partners in an Angela Merkel administration, but social democracy is challenged as a movement in Germany as in the rest of Europe. Following electoral results in Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and now Germany, the center-right versus center-left pendulum of power is now being questioned.
Participation was in the region of 71%. Political commentators feared that the certainty of Angela Merkel’s victory would mean lower participation, which would boost the chances of the right. Alas, participation was higher than in 2013, but the far-right did better than expected.
The winner of the night with 13% is the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is now the third biggest party in the Federal Parliament. The far-right in Germany was born as a reaction to the Greek bailout and since widened in scope to encompass Islamophobia and xenophobia.
Its political discourse has also influenced the Liberals (FDP), who are also talking about mass deportations, the purging of the Eurozone from weaker economies, and the end of any notion of political integration if that entails debt mutualization of any kind. If the SPD refuses to participate in forming a new government, then Germany along with their traditional post-WWII allies, the Liberals, will be taking a decisive step to the right.
If the SPD refuses to participate in forming a new government, then Germany along with their traditional post-WWII allies, the Liberals, will be taking a decisive step to the right. Among other things, the FDP has made clear it will support Russia’s Crimean annexation and a more broadly pro-Russian policy. It should be recalled that in Germany there are over two million voters that were born in the former USSR and immigrated since 1990.
The one issue at hand may be that the FDP is not enough. And the combination of the FDP with the Greens in the same cabinet — the so calledJamaica coalition — may be harder than originally expected.