The election left Germany in limbo – POLITICO

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BERLIN – Germany doesn’t seem to say Goodbye a moment more to Angela Merkel.

Ang general election of the country on Sunday left the two dominant political camps – the center -left Social Democrats (SPD) and the conservative alliance of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) – only 1.6 percentage points apart. That signaled a drawn-out coalition-building process that would likely leave Merkel in charge, on a guardian basis, until the autumn, if not longer.

About the only thing that can be said for a certain now is that post-Merkel, Germany will remain on a solid pro-EU transatlantic course, with the moderate party continuing to guide Europe’s most populous country. With either of the two larger parties getting more than a quarter of the vote, however, their traditional dominance in managing coalitions seems certain to come to an end.

Rather than the kind of two -party coalition that dominated politics after the German war, the country would almost certainly be governed by a diverse three -party alliance.

Until early Monday morning, the biggest known remained who would be in charge.

Leaders of both the SPD and CDU / CSU have filed a lawsuit against Merkel’s mantle. SPD leads slightly, with 25.7 percent, ahead of CDU / CSU with 24.1 percent, according to preliminary official figure.

Both camps, which have ruled together for 12 of the past 16 years and have vowed to end their cooperation, said they would try to form a coalition with the third and fourth placed parties, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, which ended at 14.8 percent and 11.5 percent respectively.

It was clear on Sunday that the CDU under party leader and chancellor candidate Armin Laschet was on course for the worst result since World War II. Without hesitation, Laschet said he wanted to form an alliance “from the heart of the Bundestag,” the German parliament.

“We will do everything we can to form a federal government under the leadership of the CDU / CSU, because Germany now needs a coalition for the future that will exaggerate Germany,” he told the chief executive. Berlin headquarters as a masked Merkel, who conducted the last campaign effort for Laschet in the last days of the campaign, stood beside her.

Scholz sees the command

His main rival, SPD candidate Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, has put his own claim to the chancellery. He said voters showed a clear preference for his party, which he led from the doldrums at the start of the campaign, when it was in third in the polls with just 15 per cent, to apparent victory.

“I think we can conclude from the result that we have a mandate that will say we want to form the next government,” Scholz said. “Citizens want change.”

Just what kind of change is hard to distinguish from Sunday’s early return. Both the Greens and the FDP seem destined to join the next coalition. The main question: Will they unite right in the middle or left in the middle?

Social Democrats appear to have the highest hand. They not only finished first, but also came from behind, improving by more than 5 percentage points on their 2017 finish. In comparison, the CDU and its Bavarian partner, the CSU, which together won nearly 33 percent in the last election, exploded.

What’s more, Scholz, who was mayor of Hamburg before becoming finance minister and vice-chancellor in 2017, is more famous than Laschet. Nearly half of SPD voters said they would not vote for the party if he was not its chancellor candidate, according to exit poll data. For the CDU and Laschet, that’s only the case for 10 percent of voters.

However, under the German political system, such considerations are largely irrelevant. Unlike many other European countries, parties do not require an order from the head of state to try to form a coalition, a pat that usually goes to the party that ends first. Instead, it is up to the parties themselves to seize the initiative and form a government.

There are many precedents in postwar German politics for the runner-up to end up controlling the government. In 1969, Conservatives finished the election about 3.5 percentage points earlier than the SPD. But SPD chancellor candidate Willy Brandt was still able to form a coalition with the FDP.

There was a similar outcome in 1976, when CDU / CSU candidate Helmut Kohl, led his party to a final spot in what would be a spectacular result of 48.6 per cent. Although, the governing coalition at the time between the SPD and the FDP together had more than 50 per cent, which was seen as a vote of confidence in their administration. The SPD itself won only 42.6 per cent of the vote, however.

The options are open

With any of the large parties unable to claim a clear mandate at this time, it will decrease the settlement efficiency of their leaders, as they seek to convince the two smaller parties to join them. Conversely, the leaders of the FDP and Greens, who have deeply differing views on many issues, can come together among themselves to decide which of the two larger parties they want to govern.

Sunday night, neither party was ready to say more than they kept their options open.

Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens, who years ago negotiated a three-way engagement with the CDU and the FDP in his state of Schleswig-Holstein, spoke on various talk shows at the awards, he says he wants a coalition that is “In the task of handling the challenges ahead.”

He said that while many in his party’s base would prefer a two-way relationship with the SPD, the need for a three-way coalition has completely changed the calculus. “There is no clear voter will so it will come down to the parties reaching an agreement,” he said.

Regardless of the coming constellation, the Greens will not deviate from their insistence that fighting climate change should be at the forefront of the political agenda, said Annalena Baerbock, the party’s chancellor candidate and fellow leader with Habeck.

“Laying the groundwork for the country to be climate neutral over the next 20 years will be the biggest challenge for the next government,” said Baerbock, who led his party to its best result in a federal election.

He promised that the Greens would not be pushed into the coming negotiations. In addition to stricter climate policies, he said his party would push to make social justice and youth issues a priority for the next government.

“Politics is not a bazaar,” he said.

While the Greens are counted as the biggest winner in the election – the party improved in 2017 as a result of nearly 6 percentage points – many in the environmental movement are hoping for more, especially after the party’s advance in early polls. in the campaign up to 25 percent.

Baerbock took responsibility for the Greens ’fall to the ground, citing personal mistakes he made during the campaign. That lost promise did little to lessen the celebration after the Greens ’election in Berlin, where the loyal party rejoiced in their radiant leadership duo. The party seems to have been particularly buoyed by it strong bearing to younger voters, reinforcing its claim to be the party of the future.

Free chance of the Free Democrat

The Free Democrats posted only minimal gains in their 2017 result, adding just under one percentage point, according to the displays. However, the party, which is also popular with young voters, hailed the result as a significant victory, if only because it confirmed that the FDP would once again be the center of coalition talks.

The party was in a similar position in 2017, but it didn’t end well for the free agents in the market. After negotiating a three-way coalition with Merkel and the Greens for a month, FDP leader Christian Lindner pulled the plug in the talks, leaving the CDU / CSU with no choice but to seek the embrace of the SPD, a partnership that many believed even had already passed its expiration date.

Lindner, who was offended by the media and the polls on that move (she justified it by saying Merkel would not make enough concessions in the direction of the FDP) could not afford to be a murderer in the second opportunity.

He reiterated his wish for a CDU -led government on Sunday, saying the two parties “have the most in common.” However he also insisted that it was too early to start making serious decisions about what course to take.

“We are free now, having established ourselves as a double digit party, and we will use that freedom to build a centrist coalition,” Lindner said.

The Best Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 10.3 percent of the vote, a loss of more than 2 percentage points in 2017. Both the CDU and SPD decided to work with the anti-immigrant party, whose leadership was in turmoil. recent years, in any coalition.

The left party, whose roots rested with the communist party of East Germany, won 4.9 percent of the vote. Even if a quirk on the rules would allow the party to have MPs despite failing to reach the 5 per cent threshold, it would only have 39 MPs, making a leftist coalition with the SPD and the Greens too much. which is unlikely.

Meanwhile, Merkel faces the unique possibility of reaching power after 16 years in the party she defeated to become chancellor.

He will also face blame from his own ranks for adjusting his order by not joining the campaign with greater satisfaction.

Perhaps the most annoying for Merkel, who has spoken wisely in the past months of post-political life full of books and travel, is that, by December, she can once again donate a shiny silk suit to deliver the traditional of the chancellor New Year’s Address.

This article has been updated.

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