An unprecedented crisis has befallen Germany, as Chancellor Angela Merkel has failed to form a majority coalition government following September’s Federal Election.
Although they are still the largest parliamentary grouping, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), won only 246 seats (35% of the parliament) between them. Germany’s second largest party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has already ruled out a ‘Grand Coalition’ between themselves and the CDU / CSU, meaning that Merkel’s only real shot at forming a government was by joining forces with the centre-left Green Party and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
However, Merkel (depicted above) has been left out of luck, with the FDP unable to reach a satisfactory agreement with the CDU. The party’s leader, Christian Lindner, said that the FDP were pulling out of talks, as they did not wish to compromise on their principles. The FDP and the CDU have worked together before, forming a coalition government in 2009. However, similar to the Liberal Democrats fate after 2010, the FDP’s support plummeted due to not following through on its campaign promises. Lindner (pictured below) is likely wary not to repeat the mistakes of 2009.
The reduced CDU presence in the Bundestag is due to a disappointing campaign, which led to it losing seats to the right-wing, eurosceptic party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is now the third-largest party with 91 seats (13%). Both the CDU and AfD have ruled out working with each other, which would have been Merkel’s only remaining coalition option.
Merkel has told reporters that she has no choice now but to go to the President and formally announce her failure to form a government. This will, in all likelihood, result in a second election, with Merkel continuing to steer the ship until its conclusion.
It is unclear whether, after such a disappointing result for the CDU, Merkel will stand again, as some commentators have suggested that this could signal the end of her 12 year chancellorship. A recent poll published by Die Welte shows that 61.4% of Germans believe this to be the case.
As for the results of a possible snap election, it is anyone’s guess in such a politically divided country. A leadership change could mean a surge for the CDU, but AfD could capitalise on their instability and continue to gain momentum.
Or, perhaps, an even more tenuous situation for the mainstream parties could occur if they are forced to form an even weaker coalition government to stop the AfD from gaining power. This breakdown in talks could prove costly to the the pro-EU parties at such a turbulent time in European politics.