The results of German general polls have been announced. To expectations of many political pundits and commentators, Angela Merkel led center-right CDU/CSU has clinched a majority with almost 33% of total votes – a figure that is slated to hand her 218 seats in Bundestag. The Social democrats, or SPD, helmed by Martin Schulz, is trailing second with just over 20% votes and is projected to command 138 seats in the house.
The most interesting aspect of the poll however is the rise of AfD, a far-right, anti-immigration party, which had previously struggled to enter mainstream politics. It emerged as the largest party in the house by claiming a significant 13.5% of the vote – a proportion that will land it 87 seats. This shift marks the first time a far-right party has been able to make its way to Bundestag in last six decades and spells a change of tone in nation’s future parliamentary discourse.
Shortly after the results were made public, Schulz confirmed statements by other senior party members that the SPD would not reenter into a coalition with the CDU/CSU but opt for opposition.
With SPD out of the possible governing coalition, that leaves Merkel with the pro-business Free Democratic Party or FDP and the Greens as potential partners. They have scored 10% and 9% of votes respectively and together with CSU, form the most likely ruling trio. It’s a coalition that’s widely been dubbed as the Jamaican coalition after the three parties’ respective black, green, and yellow flags – the same colors that fashion Jamaican national flag.
It’s worth mentioning that while this coalition has worked at state level, it hasn’t been tried over national stage before – a reality that analysts predict will necessitate complex negotiations before any mutually agreeable arrangement can be reached. Merkel’s conservative party is itself divided in two camps, her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union which is headed by Horst Seehofer. The two wings began to diverge few years ago and are increasingly taking on distinct political identities. Meaning that the sought after alliance, in another sense, would comprise four separate parties with sometimes nuanced but mostly disparate outlooks.
The Greens, a party born out of the 1968 social revolution is also split into two camps - leftist ("Fundis") and the more pragmatic centrists ("Realos") and will be sending two delegations for negotiations. The business friendly FDP would be wary of putting itself through the same predicament that it had to face after forming a coalition with Merkel in 2009. The party, according to reports, will be pushing for the seat of finance minister in any likely coalition – a demand that will require Merkel to swap her finance minister and long term aide Wolfgang Schäuble to some other role.
In any case, the results of recent poll have created an interesting and complex political ground in Bundestag in which the traditionally dominant CSU/CDU stands at its lowest parliamentary strength in decades. This electoral equation will lead to a tough and drawn-out negotiations between prospective ruling partners and require conservative CDU/CSU to make uneasy compromises if it wished to reelect Angela Merkel as national chancellor for the 4th consecutive term.