Mrs. Merkel, Who Will It Be?

September 23, 2009

So five days out from the election to the German Bundestag it is now fairly clear that there are only two possible results:

1) Another Grand Coalition

2) A CDU/CSU – FDP coalition.

Why? Firstly because the SPD and Greens do not have much of a chance of getting enough votes to form a coalition. This has been clear since before the start of the election campaign and has not changed: As of today’s poll, the SPD is on about 24% and the Greens 11%. Together, 35%. Doesn’t cut it.

Also, as before the SPD rejects a coalition on the Federal (Bundestag) level with the Left Party. Not that that would be possible going by current polling because the Left gets only 11.5%. Add that to the SPD and Greens and you still don’t get a majority.

Finally and most interestingly, on Sunday the FDP leader Guido Westerwelle came out and finally categorically rejected a so-called ‘Traffic Light Coalition’ of Greens, SPD and FDP.

So the question (which has only be slightly narrowed since July) is: Will Chancellor Merkel be able to form a ‘bourgeois coalition’ with her preferred partner the FDP, or will it be business as usual in a Grand Coalition come Sunday? The CDU/CSU has 35% and FDP 13.5% on current polling.

The word is that the overhang mandates –  direct mandates won in electorates exceeding the overall proportion won by the party in the country – will tip the balance in favour of the CDU/CSU and FDP. The SPD are already complaining that this is a misrepresentation through the electoral system, which some are seeing as a concession of defeat.

A reinstating of the Grand Coalition would certainly be a dull ending to a dull election campaign, where neither of the larger parties has confronted the other on any substantial issues of policy or personality. So maybe it would fit.

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4 Responses to “Mrs. Merkel, Who Will It Be?”

  1. Geoffrey Says:

    I could be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure Westerwelle only ruled out a “traffic-light” coalition on Sunday, i.e. SPD-Greens-FDP. He was smart enough not to rule out a Jamaica coalition.

    While the Greens have been very vocal about “Jamaica staying in the Caribbean”, there seems to be a split though in the Greens over this – Kuenast is apparently not dead against it and I’ve heard that the party base is also more pragmatic, given the fact there is a Jamaica coalition in Hamburg. Remember the FDP and Greens hate each other precisely because their voters are very similar demographically – to put it crudely, bourgeois baby-boomers.

    The NZ solution for this would be for the Greens to not go into formal coalition but just give support on confidence and supply or abstain. Germany doesn’t like minority governments but a commentator I heard yesterday was saying that it could be a possibility.

    The CDU/CSU and FDP will do anything to avoid another Grand Coalition, so I think the SPD might get a nasty shock when negotiations start. The Greens could basically name their price (nuclear power phasing out stays, environment ministry, even take foreign minister’s post off Westerwelle..), so as long as they could justify their position to their voters it might not be so bad for them.

  2. Geoffrey Says:

    And tomorrow’s the big day. It’ll certainly be interesting with the last polls showing a distinct drop in support for the CDU/CSU. It’s amazing how personalised their campaign has been – almost completely Merkel and the last-minute campaign message is “If you want to strengthen Merkel, you have to vote CDU”. You don’t get more blatant than that. So if Merkel gets schwarz-gelb, she’s going to be very powerful. If she fails, her position could start to be very precarious indeed.


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